By tuk-tuk Cambodia is a feast for the eyes.
Teen girls, all with silver shoes, ride one-two-three on the scooter beside us.
Then a family of four like a circus act. The oldest child in front wedged between his father and the steering column.
The smallest teetering on the seat, waving a water bottle gleefully, propped by his mother taking the rear.
We vie for lanes.
Endless tuk-tuks in flashes of bright yellow, olive flecked with marcasite, deep hues of polished wood,
reflective flames over sunset reds, fringe dangling in tourists sweaty faces, and adorned cushions that glisten with metallic thread.
The monkeys accept or steal favors of melon from tourists, their heads deep in nearly empty rinds.
Soft stomaches swollen and swaying as they saunter off satisfied.
Food carts dot the shoulder as numerous as the potholes.
We avoid craters and collisions, jostling by fruit stands golden with mango, banana, and pineapple.
The vendors sing their wares when approached on foot.
Prices dropping with each step away as garments sway lonely in the breeze, like a great crowd of forgotten spirits.
Sheer fabric, yard upon yard, stand after stand,
“Lady” they say, “Madame” they shout, “Good price!” they beckon,
waving linens in the shape of skirt, shirt, sarong, and scarf.
How can there be so many? How can they sustain?
Children play in the dirt of wall-less shelters among dozens of plastic chairs. Most empty.
But the hearths burn for when the crowds come.
Corn roasting, sweetly scenting the air with wafts of sugary kernels rich and decadent, as a woman fans flames with fronds.
Everything on skewers next door.
Small fish, coils of sausage like snaked entrails, and whole chickens with wings spread, exposed like a dark alley flasher.
Dogs looking like death bake in the afternoon sun, fanned by flies and passing traffic.
Tonight I watch as the sun sets. A bleeding ball of fire over a bustling village.
Order from chaos. Bikes and motorcycles driving in each other’s lanes, staring down busses and car headlights.
The sky thick and smokey with the dust of life.