The Heart of the Land

by Jesse  Sessoms

The resort lay at the base of low flat green hills,
like desiccated, deserted ant mounds.
Surrounding it was open land:
green areas of banana trees, of dragon fruits with cactus arms,
small dried up ponds, their brown hard rippled mud bared,
and ponds to which egrets flocked.
If you stood among the banana trees, on the brown grass, with the fluttering
white butterflies, the white birds starting up, before you the low green hills,
in the tropical afternoon under the illuminating sun,
you would hear chants of Buddhist monks floating
in the air, the sound at that moment
pure as water fresh from a mountain’s spring.
Then you would feel what for a long, long time
you had missed, that rare, ephemeral sensation
that had come to you at unique times and places
in Thailand, when you had been alone
on an island at an as yet undeveloped beach, or in a small, small village out in the far, deep countryside,
the faintest tinge of the true, ineffable, mysterious heart of the land..
Pausing there among the dragon fruits, the green hills,
you would at once feel too
the loss.
green land, open land
unencroached upon by human hands.
Because the land you were on was resort land
no one could touch it; because the resort wanted scenery
the land was not developed.
green land, open land
here now rare as the wild elephant, as the wood of the teak,
as Thailand’s tigers, which now at the zoo you can pay to pet,
and have your picture taken with.

The Heart of the Land

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