Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Poem

by Andrea Cameron

I spent an hour with you today.
I walked through
claustrophobic caverns,
my footsteps resounding
in the temple of your hideous secret.

I looked through your barbed wire smile
and stared shamelessly
at your treasure of skulls,
your collection of souls,
taken in terror.

You offer me a tiny shoe,
boast with your photo exibit,
brandish tools of torture,
invite me inside
to gape at your ghastly trophies.

I spent only an hour with you,
and your six thousand faces,
wide-eyed and battered,
their only memorial
trapped behind your rusty grin.

In 1997, I went to Cambodia for Christmas. Just after New Year's, I went to S-21. Formerly Tuol Svay Prey High School in Phnom Penh, this building was turned into a prison in 1975. It was renamed Security Prison (S-21) and was also known as Tuol Sleng. Approximately 20,000 people were detailed in S-21 before being murdered by the Khmer Rouge. Now, the prison walls are covered with thousands of black and white photographs of prisoners, all of whom were killed. There were only seven known survivors.

I wrote this poem shortly after the visit. It was published in Room Magazine a few years ago. I'm glad I wrote this so I wouldn't forget the things I saw.

No comments:

Post a Comment