Oh the delta is dull

a whole day’s driving

through its pancake

paddy flatness

for the pristine coast,

crossing the Irrawaddy

twice, its broad brown

meander with a white

sandy ridge of beach

down its centre.

Then bridge after bridge

over its many tributaries

and to each its abandoned

sentry boxes and burst


and we’ll do a whole

day of this again on return.

An expanse of luminous

green, the once great

rice bowl of Asia

and all too occasionally

a row of precipitous

palm trees

tries to break

unsuccessfully with monotony.

Small groups in conical hats

crouch in shallow waters

and plant or thin

in the all day glare.

And those long houses

on stilts, I discover,

are for ducks

– then the intrusion

or overlay of other


Laois, Leitrim

or Hokkaido

competes, exchanging

one flatness

for another.

And with what grace

does it take to live

out here in the hither

and thither bamboo

houses on sticks

that would hardly perch

a large bird without


and to each, a bridge

of one bamboo span.

Inside, might be pictures

from an eastern Breughal

but all I see is ennui

and nights of no


the romance of the paraffin

lamp fades when all it gathers

are mosquitoes, moths

and silence.