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The loneliest Tree in Cambodia

By larry chambersPublished 6 months ago 2 min read

Just seventeen miles outside of Phnom Penh, a tree stands at the center of the former orchard in the village of Choeung Ek, one of 260 execution camps used by the Khmer Rouge during the Pol Pot regime's four years of terror.

I am a tree that birds do not land

children do not climb

no families come to play or sing

only sadness fills their eyes

The people come to see this place

they look at me and cry

I hear them talk bad of me

I hear all that they say

I hear them say cut /// me down

I watch them walk away

Once upon a time, my home was good before the demons came

I wish you knew my home was good

where rice grew tall

where birds sang-their-early-morning-songs

Then Pol Pot came

he told the people time had stopped

no family smile,

no happy home,

soft hands became a lethal crime

During the day they dug the graves

at night they counted what they’d done

at night was when the trucks arrived

with people weak and torn

headlights shined

eyes were covered, hands bound

the horror had just begun

A man called Dutch stood alone inside the barred-wired gate

he stood with lists in hand

he checked off every name for made-up crimes for nothing, the people had done

Don't get close; it's where the evil is done

Where the days were long then turned to night

Where the stars lit up the night timw sky

as hell-hound hands began their nighttime chores

they chop \\\ with axe and cut with blade

until their job was done

Each night was filled with people’s unanswered prayers

Each rotten smell

I watched as the demons took a mother’s child and held tiny feet too tight

as they smashed against my trunk

The blood ran red and stained my bark

then tossed each one away

Then one day, the killing stopped

no one told me why

graves were covered

tools were dropped

assassins ran away ----

They tried to wash their blood-stained hands

They justified each killing blow as good for what they served

Still horrific memories fill their nighttime sleep

These hell-hound helpers swore lies were told

<no bad things here were ever done>

but why so many bones were






y stacked graying in the sun

As for me, I’ll be okay,

the monks had come to pray

they built a tall stupa stacked with 10,000 skulls for all to see the things that evil was done

As for me, I’ll be okay

around my trunk, they tied the strings of red, blue, and yellow gray

they made a wooden sign

with my name painted white

‘Chankiri’ the killing tree ... forgive what they have done.


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