I’ve been tagged by my friend, poet Brianna Pike, to post a poem of mine (published, early draft, loved or hated) each day for five days and each day, I’m to tag another poet to join the challenge.
Today’s poem is unpublished, and I have no desire to attempt to publish it, so I think I’m good to post it here. Loy Kratong (sometimes spelled Loi Krathong) is a Thai holiday that I believe was originally based on legends about water spirits and goddesses and letting go of your sins. Today, it’s more of a fun holiday. Thais make kratongs, or little boats with flowers, candles, and decorations, and float them on the river at night, making a wish.
In addition, there is a holiday in Northern Thailand that coincides with Loy Kratong where they let off sky lanterns. So I sort of pulled to two together in this poem. I wanted to capture that generational divide where maybe there was an older grandmotherly type who still believed in a spiritual meaning behind Loy Kratong, and a young person who just wanted to make a wish and was excited over the holiday.
The young girl holds a long
match steadily, lighting the
candle upon the tiny boat. Perfectly
folded into prisms, banana
leaves ring the rim and give
way to purple orchids and
smoking incense sticks. Let go
the girl’s grandmother says.
Let go of your bad deeds give
them up to please the water
goddess. Her hands linger
on the boat a moment longer
then the girl lays it on the
trembling water, her lips
moving silently. What are
you saying? asks the grandmother.
I want to see the water
goddess. That is my wish.
Shaking her head, the grandmother
lights another match and
places it in the girl’s hand. Send
your wish with the lantern says
the grandmother. When the wick
ignites, the paper billows out, and
the lantern rises, joining hundreds
of others overhead. The girl
jumps up, throws her arms in
the air. Look! I see her face! The
lanterns have fallen into the
shape of a woman with
long hair. While the girl
rejoices, the grandmother looks:
the candle on their kratong
has blown out.
I decided that this poem would be better in prose form, and from this poem rose the first scene I ever wrote in my fiction WIP, a YA novel about a Thai/American girl who moves from the States to Bangkok when she is 15. In addition to struggling to fit in to a place that’s supposed to be home, Jasmine also has a difficult secret from her time in America. Here’s a taste:
I nod, and together we gently lay our boats on the river. The water is very cold tonight, and a chill runs down my spine. I remember when my little brother Elijah was baptized and his tiny body shivered when the water dripped down his head. Of course, he cried, and I really wanted to take him away from the priest and the cold water. I wonder what this water goddess will do with me. Looking up, I see that our boats are gliding along slowly, bumping into others on the river. Forgive me for what I did to Sarah. Take it all away, little boat, and Mother Water, take this as my offering.