Funan: A Traveller’s Guide
'Some have posited that the region referred to in ancient texts as Suvarnabhumi most likely applied to the historical kingdom of Funan…' – Asian Geographic
In late February, their scribes will say,
clouds hang low enough overhead
that those tending to the gardens lengthwise
along the tower's eastern edge swear
they keep the branches from bruising the sky.
Next door, wise men of the kingdom weigh
a country's worth in trays of gold
that never empty. This wonder brings
the princes and their poets, who are prophets
too of a most fantastical kind.
A mountain glowers at the tower's heart
like a shard, which day after day
cuts the hands of those who dare to scale it.
High above, the kingdom's children play
on grassy slopes that never winter.
Around the gates on Sunday mornings
sit the sons of an ancient prince,
with shoulders blistered from the tower's bricks.
Worry crowns them about the brows.
The only throne they're offered is the earth.
Cross-legged, they contemplate this odd
reflecting tower, its mudstained sides,
wash its newest names through older tongues:
Phnom. Phù Nam. Fúnán. Funan.
These too come and go, a slower tide.
By Theophilus KwekQLRS Vol. 22 No. 1 Jan 2023