Archives for the month of: October, 2014

While in Chiang Mai, we visited the Buddhist temple where my family worshipped. We brought food and an offering of money to the monk, and in return asked for the blessing we so needed. “Pour the water,” the monk said, and as we poured, he chanted, the words running with the water. I recognized words and phrases and our family name: Koslaphirom. “America,” he said. The words flowed and flowed until the water ran out. He stopped and bowed. We thanked him, then stepped out into the physical world again.

Blessings tumbled down on us

as water filled a bowl,

the monk chanting words,

rhythm of flowing water.

Outside, cars sped by,

people hung laundry over

balcony railings.

Cats walked languidly

across the courtyard and

fish darted about in their

watery kingdom – an urn

on the stone steps.

Inside the temple, the

blessings flowed onto

my pink-cheeked son, plump

with young blood, and

my mother, cancer cells

coursing through her veins.

And blessing reached across town,

to where my father was wheezing

in his hotel bed, hooked up

to an oxygen tank, tethered

still to our world.

Blessings poured over memory –

of Grandfather, long gone,

though we reached for him.

Grandmother, too, and my

oldest aunty, and others I

have never known. Blessings

flowed, chant like, waking

us with a splash of water

and the presence of

each other, everywhere.


In my everyday life, I am so used to not looking like most people, that it is startling at first when I am with people who do look like me. But arriving in Thailand is such a shock of welcome and familiarity, that it quickly becomes comfortable, easy. The faces greeting us at the airport really do look like mine. The words I hear rush to find me, name me, claim me as one of theirs. “Fon” is my Thai name, meaning rain — for my rainy birthday. It meets me when I return.

We walked off the plane

into a tangle of arms,

brown, stretched towards us,

a rush of sound, the

voices naming us,

again and again,

until I became the girl

I was 25 years before.

“Fon,” they said.

The name traveled through

body and memory,

waking long sleeping cells,

so that I knew it as mine.

When my parents invited me and my family to join them on what they claimed would be their last trip home to Thailand, I knew they were telling me more than they said. They were not so much old as sick — and feeling vulnerable to time. Despite the stress of uncertainty and the sadness of imminent loss, that awareness of time, place, and all experiences was a gift. My senses were on high alert, paying attention to taste, sound, smell, and the many voices that I knew not to take for granted. 

The last trip home

would travel along

the edge of change.

The change comes,

as it always does:

a slow folding in,

then increasing urgency

as the end draws near.

But before that,

would be the last trip home:

the chance to touch gold,

taste salty water,

feel warm breath

on tea-colored skin,

sing the song of language,

touch the ground

of home again.