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Summoning Souls, by Nguyen Quang Thieu

September 07, 1997

Under the light of winter clouds,

By tall buildings panting to stand up,

By inns where alcohol pours into bare feelings,

Patches of grass, accidentally saved, support each other.

I carried a torn green dream through my childhood.

I didn't know: did the hunted grass suffer?

The crickets' song is farther away now;

Widowed spring rains cry into summer.

I cross the death of green with more than thirty years

Of spreading my sleeping mat and weeping,

I cross the path of killers who shoot at breath.

I see no prison, but grass disappears each day;

I hear no guns, but the breast of grass is broken night after night.

This afternoon, on a street that runs through the last world of grass,

A white horse walks with bowed head and drooping mane,

A hearse for the death of green, with a feverish nose.

All the blades of grass shake,

And the horse neighs, summoning their souls.

From "The Women Carry River Water" by Nguyen Quang Thieu, edited and translated from the Vietnamese by Martha Collins and Nguyen Quang Thieu (University of Massachusetts Press: 126 pp., $13.95) Copyright 1997 Reprinted by permission.

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