The Ayeyarwady

Clair Chilvers

On the green top of a sand cliff
they farm the land
workers gather crops by hand
take them on gondola-like canoes
to Mandalay or Bagan.

Houses on stilts against the floods
which turn the land to paddy fields.
flocks of goats herded by men in woolly hats
(while I sunbathe, for them it is winter cool).

Near Mandalay the mud comes gently to the river
empty barges drawn up on the shore
further back tin-roofed shanties.

We pass purposeful barges
heavy laden, pushed by tugboats,
fishermen in dugouts with nets,
rafts piled with teak logs driven downstream
by a single tiny outboard motor.

Sandbanks are treacherous
each night we moor
not risking them in darkness.
Our course a wavy line
men on the bow with poles.
no channel markers here.

Check out more poems about Myanmar in the Poetry Atlas.

Main Location:

Irrawaddy River, Myanmar (Burma)

Other locations:

The majestic Irrawaddy River in Myanmar

Photo by Clair Chilvers