The letter I wrote you had smeared ink, But the bamboo walls are thin, and fog kept leaking through. On this cold mountain, I cannot sleep at night. By morning, a reed stalk can fade. White snow on my thin blanket. The stove glows red for lunch, but the mountain remains hazy. Ink freezes inside my pen-- I hold it over the glowing coals and it melts into a letter. Blocking the wind, a tree with purple roots trembles. Corn seeds shrivel underground. On days when my comrades are on assignment, I miss them, but. . .there is an extra blanket. The cold rooster crows lazily in a hoarse voice. We beat on the cups, the bowls, to ease the strangeness. The mountain hides hundreds of ores in its bosom. I try, but can't find enough vegetables for a meal. The rice often comes early, the letters late. The radio is on all night to make the bunker seem less desolate. So many years without women, I mistake the sound of horse hooves for your footsteps. Gathering clouds often invite me to dream; knowing so, you keep the light glowing late. Wishing I had some scent of soapberry So rocks would soften, the mountains grow warm. Meo Vac, 3/82
From The Time Tree by Huu Thinh, translated by George Evans and Nguyen Qui Duc. Copyright © 2003 by Curbstone Press. Reprinted by permission of Curbstone Press. Distributed by Consortium. All rights reserved.