Phina So

I’m floating
Phina So, Cambodia

I’m floating in the Mekong river.
I dare not glance at my decaying body.
I’m floating.
Last night I was drowning and you looked away.
I cried my heart out, but you walked with dismay.
I’m floating on the Cambodian news.
People are feeling sad –
But that could not help me.
I left behind a handicapped child
Who I will always miss his smile.
I left behind his childhood.
With no return.
My drowning body is floating.
Security men without heads and hearts.
Depart without giving their hands.
I was dying and I only see my child’s innocent face.
I could not help but blaming myself for being his mother.
I was a sex worker whose life was beyond cheap and lower.
Oh Mekong river, swallow me.
In fact, I have no interest in living long time ago.
Swallow me, river!
Fishes eat me, do not hesitate!
Please you – fishers – do pretend as if you do not see me.
Let the river swallow my body.
Oh how I wish to reborn again.
To be a mother with full protection, love, and grace.
For her child for the rest of her life.
And do not share the fate as how I die this life.
To the security men who left me to die,
help yourself find peace so that I could go to paradise.

(Phina So is a researcher, writer, a poet and a member of the Khmer literature collective, Slap Paka, and the head of the Women Writers Committee at PEN Cambodia. She has published an anthology of short stories with a group of authors. She lives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with her family.)