It all began with a top. That’s right, my youth was an idyllic entanglement? No, more perhaps glimpses of the back of a blue top departing a train station draped in a misty downpour that had swept across Saigon years ago.
When I left after your stories, the sea was completely placid. It was nothing but a red reflection due to the dull greyish boats’ headlights. A glare here and there from the water was just enough for me to work out the shape of a person.
The sunlight was like fire through the cloud of bazan red dust. I ran after him shouting: “Men, come home as soon as you can!”. Men’s answer was a slurry of words whisked away by the wind. The bike, a red dot slowly fading away, disappeared into the emptiness of the mead. Nothing was left but the echo of the engine bouncing back from the surface of the silent lake. Đá Lake crystal clear during the dry season, imprinted clearly the form of a flock of birds with their wingspan stretching out far and wide, endlessly flying across the lake.
When he prays for the words, some whine, some wail, and some whimper in silence because they know. And in despair. The words are like endless drops of a storm beating down on each one of us, acting on a curse — an odd three hundred years.
By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm I climbed down the side of the rock, the grey hair man followed me ten paces behind rapidly shortening our distance. Why would he not leave me be? The salty rock surface mixed in with pools of wet coral makes for a cocktail of impending clumsy falls, gingerly I […]
the neighbours rushed over to watch like they were watching someone having a fit. Sheepishly I laughed like I did something wrong: “I must bury this body!”. They broke out in laughter: “There’s nobody, what body?”. They couldn’t see the sizeable dead body nor the white skeleton lying in the middle of the yard. My next-door neighbour looks at me full of compassion: “Yeah, quickly bury it, before it deteriorates!”. Then he scoffed loudly and left.
It’s a full circle, I have become the child you’ve just met.
People: like whiskey, down the drain.
Con người: như whiskey, dưới rãnh.
Inspired by the legend of Hemingway.
Không còn chảy máu: già nua, vợ mới.
Stop bleeding: old age, new wife.
It has been an incredible journey translating this master piece by Trần Băng Khuê. It has been my privilege.
“Những vệt máu đã khô trên mấy ngón tay. Chúng tan hoà vào nhau thành một thứ hình thù kì dị mang tên tội lỗi.”
“The blood had dried on my fingers. They merged together oddly into an appellation of blasphemy.”
By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm, an interpretation by Lê Vĩnh Tài
The flaws, imperfection
Scattering raw scars
Me in awe, a witness
head towards the Sun
crawl across the dark valleys
I’m steeped in the deluge
the arid sunlight, a new season
April begins with the tired hearts learning how to spell happiness. The passing rain in dreamy sketches of the mountains and rivers, the image of a familiar yet unfamiliar face, not of yesterday nor exactly the face of tomorrow. In the minutes upon the sunrise the change of heart, upon the return of the wind, there were such turns of events.
isn’t a part of any lexicon
it is flowing
it is dreaming
it is awakening
resounding afloat drifting in thick fog
hey, little lady
The moon was bright red. My fingers in the dirt. The lumps of soft earth broke away, revealing a tongue that has disintegrated, turned black. My useless tongue. The tongue that could not keep its word. Then suddenly there it was, I discovered another tongue by it. It was tarried by the soil, but it was still clear that it was still fresh, its flesh damp with blood. I was very confused, for sure I had never buried such a tongue. Who’s tongue is this? Where did it come from? Why would anyone want to cut their tongue off and bury it as I did?
His eyes glossed over white, icy, opaque. The stranger, the father of my thirteen year old daughter. I had begged him- please forget her, I forgive you. He just laughed, the light never reaching his eyes- she, to you is the mother of my child. I had loved him, the love of my life. He had picked me to dance, me the awkward skinny girl, amidst all those tall pretty ones.
Love is a glance leaning
upon the cool surface of the lake
through the waves sowing
the vast storms within me.