Moe Ma Kha Plant

Painting of Naing Win Swe by Min Kyaw Khine

That time when they
submerged my head
in water
they did not
not even
one moment
let me
raise it up
to breathe.

Thick cream of mud
essence of mud
water
rushes over
runs over
my head.

Flotsam Jetsam
Dirt Excrement
Floating weeds.

Old rotting logs
falling
apart
hit my head
bump my head
I turn like a top
dizzy
dizzy.

I lurch
a drunken
yein
dancer.

To breathe
no air
pocket
no vacuum
to breathe.

No air.

Just within
my own
body

I breathe
IN . . .
OUT . . .

A hero
climbing
the gallows
to be hanged
does not
flinch
change
expression.

Keep smiling
every inch.

I make
myself
brave
telling myself
when you use
the hammer
strike
boldly
do not
pull bak.

In my
body
is
my
life
slowly
revolving.

Am I still alive. Am I still alive?

Ah, the great
peoples’ revolutionary
hero
who
has given his life
for freedom
has walked
the bloody
streets
for
freedom.

Am I still alive.

I am not
quite
sure.

One day
two days
three days – oh.

One month
Two months
three months — oh.

Oh.

In the water
I am
drowned.

ii.

When the time
is right
water over-
whelmed
water runs off.

Moe Ma Kha plant
out of muck
struggles up
bent over.

Beautiful sunlight
under trees.

Moe Ma Kha plant
spreads
dangling
leaves.

Moe Ma Kha plant
a little shakey
Moe Ma Kha plant
slightly
wilted.

Moe Ma Kha plant
a little broken
a little, crooked.

Little things, minor things
let them all
be washed away.

With wounds, with scars, with marks

Smiling I look up
at sky. Universe

far

away.

Naing Win Swe (1940-1995) was a prominent Burmese writer and poet. Translator Kyi May Kaung is a Foreign Policy In Focus contributor, poet, and artist. Melissa Tuckey is the poetry editor for FPIF. The poem is copyright Naing Win Swe; the translation is copyright Kyi May Kaung.