4 March 2008 | Vol. 8, No. 1

Khmer Orphan, American Girl and Her Red Bandana

Say, "remove your red bandana" and even her doll's eyes blink—

even the Mekong stops flowing,

even the small Khmer orphan.

The throw-away camera aims, and shoots an expression, arm-distance away.

Say, "remove your red bandana" again,

and the tambourines shake louder.

The orphan's outstretched voice


and pushes past the onlookers to see.

Say it again,

tossing into the basket one riel then another—

and the orphan steps out of her place to become

another. The Mekong resumes,

sweeps along the banks, the fascinated doll


About the author:

Catherine Strisik has been active in the writing community of Taos, New Mexico for twenty-five years as a teacher, mentor, and poetry group workshop leader. Her poems have been published in Northwest Review, 5AM, Sulphur River, Tusculum Review, and Peregrine (where she was awarded first place poetry prize), amongst other places. Her manuscript, Raw Silk, has placed finalist in many national contests, such as the Vassar Miller Poetry Prize, Cleveland State University Press, and the Sawtooth Poetry Prize. She was a 2005 fellowship recipient at the Vermont Studio Center and received a 2005 grant from The Puffin Foundation for her Pueblo Poetry Project. Southwest Literary Center chose Strisik as a recipient for their 2006 Discovery Award in poetry. She recently completed her second poetry selection, Between the Flesh and the Nail, poems about her Cambodian experience.

For further reading:

Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 8, No. 1, where "Khmer Orphan, American Girl and Her Red Bandana" ran on March 4, 2008. List other work with these same labels: poetry.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

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