First thing I want to do when I get home is watch a movie I watched with Edwin once that was called The Girl Who Spelled FreedomSecond, I will look at trees differently now  I visited the killing fields of Cambodia. They have a life beyond the visibly statuesque form they take, immobile. Something about each one is diferent. It takes a special kind of attention we all posses to see this, but rarely use. Trees talk; they may even cry; they are custodians of memory.

I do not believe I will be able to shake the image of the killing tree against which thousands of children were slaughtered. These trees are called Chankiri trees. 

More than two thousand children were brought from Tuol Sleng by truck with a parent or parents, to arrive as the last of daylight died in the west. There they were torn from the last pair of arms that would ever cling to protect them and were delivered to their executioner, a young Khmer Rouge soldier, who took each by the legs and formally laughed to demonstrate being devoid of compassion or mercy as he swung the child’s head against the trunk of the tree. It was so the children wouldn't grow up and take revenge for their parents' deaths. I’m sure it was over quickly for most, but if it wasn't, then the executioner would swing and laugh again until the trembling or convulsing form demonstrated appropriate obedience to this terminal law of Angkor. The executioner would laugh because not laughing would indicate that they were sympathetic which would lead them to the same fate.

When we came upon the tree I read the sign that children were beaten at the tree, but didn't take in fully what this meant. What I did feel was a compulsion to lay my hand upon the tree and find some kind of pulse, to feel something witnessed by this tree, the only living thing retaining the memory in some form of what exactly happened to each of the children brought here. This tree was their last moments: the last thing their eyes saw, or ears heard, a split second before the obliteration of consciousness

Reading on the information sheet that was provided on entry to the site that I understood the grisly details of the method of execution. I was horrified to realize that the very place where I laid my hand would have been the exact place of impact of the children’s heads. Numbly, I tried to take in what had happened on the ground on which I was standing. My eyes drifted down to the roots at the right of the tree where six bricks were arranged at right angles to each other against the trunk; a termite hill was forming over them from which a string of prayer beads hung; articles of children’s clothing seemed to be emerging from the soil; a rose had been placed in the arrangement; a drinking straw protruded from one of the soil encrusted bricks; a candy wrapper and various leaves were set around. The bricks are the same that match the torture wing and first cell block of Tuol Sleng.

I sit here writing this right now with tears streaming down my face and swallowing water trying to keep the bile that persists up my throat. The rest of the group has left me to find some peace here because at first sight it was a horrific nightmare. We have visited the rest of the area but this tree will be a permanent memory for me and where I had to return before leaving. There were thousand bracelets on the tree on the posts around torture places. I am placing my bracelet that is Elsa's colors that Rain and I made together to show that parents need their children and children need their parents.

I blacked out the sign for contrast of how blunt the sign was.

Kayleigha adding her bracelet.

The skulls of the victims in one final resting place. I was listening to the guide and trying to keep myself together in this picture.

The posts around the torture grounds.

The memorial where the skulls are giving one final resting place to those fallen.

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