Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Angkor Wat by Tina Hacker

          A Temple Complex in Cambodia

Tourists see
a spiritual wonder,
marvel of architecture,
international treasure.

I see stairs.

A decay of branches
and logs that carried ancient
pilgrims closer to heaven
separate the present-day steps.

One flight up
one down.

Two sheer cliffs
of steep, wobbly planks.
The lower stairs, orphaned
of railings, the upper,
corded with them.

Lifelines of difficult labors.

Tourists lean
on partners and walking sticks,
mine their cache
of muscle memory
to balance as they inch
from the lower stairs
to those with the handrail.

They grasp it
as if it were the arm of God.

Tina Hacker is writing about her interesting experiences on a recent tour to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Her full-length poetry book, Listening to Night Whistles, published by Aldrich Press and her chapbook, Cutting It, published by The Lives You Touch Publications are available on Amazon. A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she has work in a wide variety of journals.


  1. Well done, Tina Hacker! I love the powerful ending and had a similar experience on my trip abroad last fall: "I see stairs."

  2. Agreed, I like the ending, and mining their cache of muscle memory. I would not be able to climb it now, not sure I would even if I could. But seeing the ancient wonders and the labors I imagine to build them - I hope it was for love and good rather than the lash. Nice work. Leslie Aguillard