Phnom Penh

Tuol Sleng is now a genocide museum in Phnom Penh. It was originally a school but was used as a torture prison by the Khmer Rouge between 1975 and 1979. It was known as S21. Tuol Sleng had a map of Cambodia comprised of some 300 skulls and bones of victims of the Khmer Rouge regime. This was dismantled in 2002.
 
During the Khmer Rouge period Cambodia was known as Democratic Kampuchea.
 
The authorial persona in this poem is pregnant and this colours her perceptions of Phnom Penh. She is suffering from morning sickness and lacks energy but her body is resilient and is busily making a new life. She sees vague parallels here to the city she is living in. Phnom Penh has been ravaged by war and genocide but its people are tough and resilient – the city is constantly changing as new buildings appear and Phnom Penh increases in prosperity.
 
The last stanza moves to a time when the persona is no longer living in Phnom Penh but misses the city as though it were her home. It is here that the reader can really see how much the persona loves the place.
 
Phnom Penh

 

 

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