Lâm Thị Mỹ Dạ

They say that you, a road builder
Had such love for our country
You rushed out and waved your torch
To call the bombs down on yourself
And save the road for the troops

As my unit passed on that worn road
The bomb crater reminded us of your story
Your grave is radiant with bright-colored stones
Piled high with love for you, a young girl

As I looked in the bomb crater where you died
The rain water became a patch of sky
Our country is kind
Water from the sky washes pain away

Now you lie down deep in the earth
As the sky lay down in that earthen crater
At night your soul sheds light
Like the dazzling stars
Did your soft white skin
Become a bank of white clouds?

By day I pass under a sun-flooded sky
And it is your sky
And that anxious, wakeful disc
Is it the sun, or is it your heart
Lighting my way
As I walk down the long road?

The name of the road is your name
Your death is a young girl’s patch of blue sky
My soul is lit by your life

And my friends, who never saw you
Each has a different image of your face

From Green Rice by Lam Thi My Da. Translated by Martha Collins and Thuy Dinh. Used with permission of Curbstone Press.

Lâm Thị Mỹ Dạ

Lam Thi My Da is one of Vietnam’s best known writers. She comes from Quang Binh Province, in the central part of Vietnam, an area that saw a great deal of fighting during the war. A graduate of the Writer’s College in Vietnam, she has worked as a reporter and a literary editor. She has written five books of poetry and her work, Dedicated to a Dream, received the highest honors from the National United Board of Vietnamese Literature and the Arts. Translations of her poems have been featured in Six Vietnamese Poets, published in the United States by Curbstone. She has also published three collections of stories for children.

see also http://www.thebluemoon.com/poetry/ltmda.shtml
and http://www.rattle.com/poetry/the-night-blooming-cereus-and-i-by-lam-thi-my-da/
her book of selected poems, Green Rice, translated by Martha Collins and Thuy Dinh, is available here: http://www.alibris.com/Green-Rice-Poems-by-Lam-Thi-My-Da-Thi-Mmy-Da-Lam/book/8644404

reviewed by Maxine Hong Kingston here http://www.waterbridgereview.org/092006/rvw_green_rice.php

published by Curbstone Press, 2005, Willimantic, CT

published by Curbstone Press, 2005, Willimantic, CT

Poem for the Year of the Buffalo

I was born in the year of the buffalo
A year that brings many troubles
A buffalo toils all year round
Works hard but never grumbles

When i was very small I walked
With my buffalo to the village fields
Green grass, high flying kites
Buffalo and I would daydream

There was so much wind
In the wide open fields
There was so much sun
Buffalo’s eyes would brim

Don’t play music near a buffalos ear-
Please don’t tell me that
If a buffalo looks, a buffalo knows
It doesn’t need to hear

I left home a long time ago
But when spring comes I go back
There I meet the black buffalo
Still attentive, innocent

The buffalo eats grass all day
Spring offers up grass again
Thanks to heaven for watching over
The buffalo’s youth, that never ends.

-Lam Thi My Da

translated by Thuy Dinh and Martha Collins