by Lise Day
In our huts
mosquito-nets shroud sleeping bodies
humped in slatted bars of light
Outside men coiled in sweet poppy-smoke
puff on pipes stained beetle-juice red.
This, the village of the Hill People
who share their homes with foreigners.
I shuffled around a fire
to learn their dances in the jangle
of silver discs from nose and ears;
shared a meal of unknown origin;
swallowed rough drink when the cup was passed.
Now I stand alone in a tangle of moonlight
the dark bulk of an elephant down-stream
silver bamboo stalks ready to be bound
into flimsy rafts for tomorrow’s journey.