a s t h e t r a i n a d v a n c e s
P H A N N H I E N H A O
For me to say this might make a person laugh
enrage another into plotting a coup d’etat
true words spoken carry no weight
like a blue name tag, pinned on a shirt
a ten-year-old student
has spent two years of arduous changes
He often buys iced water during summer afternoons
hoping to melt the sun
into rectangular ice bergs.
Growing up I thought speech could heal
open a wound, disinfect, then bandage it. I thought…
No, in this silence sometimes I see
the two hands of memory reaching out
to clap violently without making a sound
like the wind, like muffled hatred
of souls buried together
This silence exhausts me
It doesn’t forgive, like ants
Patiently carrying red corpuscles from my body.
I say this in a screaming voice
But the train lunges forward sounding horns like thunders
making a mockery of my efforts
On its black side blur these white words:
"Post-Colonial Train, Global Line"
I quickly hop on. Aboard a rabble sit and stand
How many are without tickets like me?
translated from the Vietnamese by Linh Dinh
© crossconnect, inc 1995-2004
published in association with the
university of pennsylvania's
kelly writers house