Poem without a Subject
I am only the sunshine and the breeze
That accompany you along the paths of your life into serenity and confidence.
Old poems reappeared in my memory tonight
The sunshine and the breeze of Bên Kiên* in past years
Failed to offer you peace and quiet as I wished for
You followed me to go up to the high waterfall
You followed me to cross the stormy sea.
Besides filling the sea, should we have to remove the mountain
Besides mending the sky, should we have to carry pyramids of stones
Recalling those to us unknown who save our fragile freedom
By laying down their precious life on the field
Now, my beloved Nga, you are walking such a long, lonely journey utterly alone
You have gone four times to the North to work in a households’ kitchen**
You have gone fifty times to the South to keep a flame alive in my heart and my soul.
From the ocean’s wind east of Taipei
To the burning sun west of Thanh Chuong***
I have just served three years in the camp
My six-year prison term is not over yet.
Which legend was reincarnated in your life that seems as surreal as I feel ?
Which marriage bonds tied up with you that look like a bathy-planktonic sediment ?
Love’s debt is not paid off
That love we treasure, let’s bring it along with us.
(Camp nr 6 in March 2013)
Translated from Vietnamese by Nguyên Hoàng Bao Viêt
* Ben Kien shipyard, where the poet worked and met his future wife.
** Ms. Nguyên Thi Nga, the author’s wife, had spent 4 years in Taipei as hired household woman worker (Di Lam Khan Ho Cong).
*** Labour camp nr 6, Thanh Chuong, Nghê An province.