BEFORE DAWN – THE POETRY FROM VIETNAM
Nguyễn Hưng Hải, an eminent poet from the land of Blue Dragon shares his five poems.
Nguyễn Hưng Hải
Poet Nguyễn Hưng Hải, born in Phu Tho province, Vietnam, graduated from Faculty of History, Hanoi University in 1980. He is member of Vietnam Writers’ Association and Vietnam Journalists’ Association, and is author of 30 volumes of poetry and epics. He won many national and local literary and journalistic awards in Vietnam.
They are like me, I’m like them
Whole lives only sacrifice
Because it is too good that people always take advantage of it
If never good, how dare disrespected…!
Selling the reputation of three coins that swaggered anywhere
Buying the reputation of three thousand coins that bowed the head
Miserable as a dog but don’t know
What’s a bone tossing with…?
Two of you that are like me with the same misery
Buying the happiness for people that not for us
How much kindness are not enough
Scared of human hands when killing…!
To dry the shirt
It’s to dry the not wet shirt
It’s to re-dry the Truong Son period
It’s to dry the loneliness
Who are lost, who are alive and where are they after so many years
Green forest, pale soldiers’ shirts
It’s to dry so that to remember and find in next days
Truong Son of up and down
It’s to dry of indifferent glances
Backpacks carried to the balks
It’s to dry the tensions of falling rains
Shirts embraced lives
Going into the fire, still smiling like nothing
Looking to someone to dry her husband shirt
Again mourning for the cold night of pity Truong Son
Now no one count to gain or lose
No one to dry frayed shirts in the afternoon rain
Dry it for remembering the old days
For not forgetting the New Year’s Eve vibration bombs
For mourning behind the backs
For knowing where the shame is tomorrow
For reminding in the future
Truong Son shirts, although pale, still to dry…
Raining in Ancient Citadel
The rains were from many years
And the rains were white way that you visited him
Hands followed the unknowns
You went out from the time of black hair until now
Surrounded by you were graves
The scent was being leaned by the rain and wind
Cupping hands to remind the feelings
Turned off from previous years from that nights
To live with memories, dreams
Going with her tears to visit him
Tombstones around horizon
The backs were bent to become the roof rises
How can cover the time
Just rain to live by the rain
To support the scent of smoke and blowing wind
To light up the Ancient Citadel four seasons of incense
To pick up every hand of bones
Mixed in the sandy soil, the road, the river…
How many years more will be curved backs?
In the rain, it become roofs above the graves
To cover the dry bones
It called mushrooms, but where are they now?
How many clouds hovered over the heads?
To overlook to the Ancient Citadel in pure white color
White as her virgin’s heart
How many years, still she visited it alone…
Two words ‘Thank You’
Before April 30, 1975
In my garden, there was an American soldier lying in a pool of blood
What did the soldier say in flickering that my young sister didn’t understand?
It was like «Help, save… save me!
Tore off my brother’s worn shirt
My young sister bandaged the wound of American soldier
Wiped the blood that has not dried on his young face, my mother sit quietly
Looked out to the garden with exploding gun
Mom and sister did not know who the American soldier called in his whisper
Maybe it was this soldier who just shot my young brother in the left chest before he was shot
My brother was also injured but there was no one there… so he died in the battle
At the gate of Saigon, who heard my brother’s voice…!?
Two words “Thank You” that erased all hatred in life
My brother was lying on the other side of Saigon Bridge, possibly shot by this soldier in the left chest
Just like this soldier’s left chest that my mother and sister have bandaged him
That cannot be able to return to my mother and me…
After many years to return to Saigon, the American soldier still did not forget
The eyes of Saigon mother looked down
The eyes of Saigon girl looked down
Instead of two words Thank You, put hands cross and say “Cảm ơn”*…
The American soldier went with my mother and sister to the other side of Saigon Bridge
Looked down at the river and dropped a white wreath
I stood among the three on the sunny April 30th morning
What else can I say other than two words “Thank you”…?
*”Cảm ơn” means “Thank you” in Vietnamese language
She used to sit at the door and looked out
Silver grain years via human hair
Half-crying and half-smiling years
I went to lodge school and the grandmother raised chickens
I missed her all week
Afternoon sitting on the doorstep and looking at the horizon
Poor mother, I was raised by the grandmother
Tears flowed back, don’t laugh in the past
Money for gifts and cakes to be saved
Where else the grandmother to offer?
Knowing the afternoon was the darkness
Only the sill, where she looked
Knowing the love, don’t let the head fall
Tripped on the door step and hurt her shadow
Splashed all over the floor
The corn she drew, her figure crouched
Blinded eyes and dark alley
Looking in to see her looking out?
Knowing the love that she was no longer existed
So that can offer her the gifts and cakes
To make a stick beside a bed
Putting at the doorstep that she can stand up
Rain that can splash on the eaves
Though far away she is still by my side…!
(Translated from Vietnamese into English by Khanh Phuong)