Categories
POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | no. 10:8 – April, have I turned ten yet? (57)

NB. April 30th, 1975, marks the fall of Saigon.
(1) membership to the communist party
(2) the new government took homes and estates, owners and their families were displaced to border forest land to farm.
(3) less digestible barley was used to supplement rice
(4) re-education camps were for ex-military of the ARVN(Army of the Republic of Vietnam)
(5) an exodus of Vietnamese refugees via the Gulf of Thailand
(6) people used to smuggle all kinds of food and other essentials from the country to sell in the metropolitan areas due to rations.

By Lê Vĩnh Tài, translated by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

April

Have I turned ten yet? Ten yes

Did I run anywhere? Ran yes

Did I do any looting? Looted yes

 

April

Do I have membership(1) yet? A member yes

Did I pick up the garbage as my bit of contribution yet? Picked yes

Did I follow my parents somewhere to work in the fields(2)? Worked in the fields yes

Did I stay up all night for meetings? Attended the meetings yes

 

April

Did I eat barley(3)? Ate yes

Poop whole pieces of barley? Pooped yes

Pick up used cigarette butts to smoke? Picked yes

 

April

Have I made poetry in the glory of the Liberation yet? Made yes

Did I sing happily amid the city streets yet? Happy yes

Has my mother’s brother attended (4)re-education camp yet? Re-educated yes

Has his unhappy wife left him yet? Left yes

My aunt’s husband (5)escaped by sea, did he die yet? Died yes

Left behind, an aunt who resorted to (6)smuggling to feed her children, did she get caught and was left with nothing at all? Nothing yes

 

April

Have I dredged the ditches for irrigation yet? Dredged yes

Have I contracted Malaria yet? Contracted yes

Did my little brother drown yet? Drowned yes

Has my mother by his body fallen beyond consolation yet? Fallen yes

 

April

Did I grow up yet? Grew up yes

Search in my memories the burning ashes yet? Searched yes

Did my love smile shine yet? Shined yes

Have we become teardrops to fall into each other’s lives yet? Fell yes

 

A lifetime

Follows April

For whomever, it is much the same

 

_____

 

tháng 4
tôi mười tuổi chưa? mười rồi
tôi chạy đi đâu? chạy rồi
tôi có hôi của không? hôi rồi

tháng 4
tôi đội viên chưa? đội rồi
tôi lượm rác làm kế hoạch nhỏ chưa? lượm rồi
tôi theo mẹ cha làm rẫy ở đâu? rẫy rồi
tôi thức đêm đi mít-tinh không? mít rồi

tháng 4
tôi ăn bo-bo chưa? ăn rồi
ỉa ra bo-bo chưa? ỉa rồi
tôi lượm thuốc lá hút chưa? lượm rồi

tháng 4
tôi làm thơ ca ngợi quê hương giải phóng chưa? làm rồi
tôi vui hát trên đường phố chưa? vui rồi
cậu tôi học tập cải tạo chưa? học rồi
mợ tôi buồn quá bỏ đi đâu không? đi rồi
dượng tôi vượt biên chết chưa? chết rồi
dì tôi buôn chuyến nuôi con bị bắt mất hết vốn chưa? hết rồi

tháng 4
tôi vét mương làm thủy lợi chưa? vét rồi
tôi sốt rét chưa? sốt rồi
em trai tôi chết đuối chưa? chết rồi
mẹ tôi ngã quỵ xuống bên xác em chưa? quỵ rồi

tháng 4
tôi già đi chưa? già rồi
lục tìm trong ký ức tro than chưa? lục rồi
em cười lấp lánh chưa? lấp rồi
ta sẽ thành những giọt nước mắt
rơi xuống đời nhau chưa? rơi rồi

một đời người
theo tháng 4
ai cũng thế mà thôi…

NB. April 30th, 1975 marks the fall of Saigon

(1) membership to the communist party 

(2) homes and estates were taken by the new government, owners and their families were displaced to border forest land to farm.

(3) less digestible barley was used to supplement rice

(4) re-education camps were for ex-military of the ARVN(Army of the Republic of Vietnam)

(5) an exodus of Vietnamese refugees via the Gulf of Thailand

(6) people used to smuggle all kinds of food and other essentials from the country to sell in the metropolitan areas due to rations.

By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

There's magic in translating a body of work from one language to another.

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