Only a few meters from the side walk, and across the street from the park, I found a nest where a homeless person had spent the night. At the end of December, Ha Noi can be cold, so this person had dragged a large stump with broken branches sticking out from somewhere. Part of it he, or she, used as a bed over which some torn cloth had been spread, and part of it he, or she, burned, all night probably, to stay warm. The space was empty now but not abandoned. Whoever it was would be back, I was certain, because of how the blanket was spread so carefully over the cradle of branches, and how the smoke still rose from the dying fire. I thought about how comfortable I had been in my bed last night, my windows open to the cool air but my blanket cozy, and warm. I don’t know why we all can’t be warm when it’s too cold outside to sleep. I don’t know why there isn’t enough of everything for everyone when there is so much for some. I thought about hanging around until someone returned, maybe trying to help them, but then I wouldn’t know what to do. In the nearby lake old men fish with baited hooks, or jerk their treble hooks through the water, hoping to snag something. A woman sells tea from two thermos bottles and Thang Long by the cigarette, business as usual. Someone’s caged bird sings.
Bruce Weigl’s two most recent poetry collections are The Abundance of Nothing, which was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, and On the Shores of Welcome Home, which won the Isabella Gardner Award and was published in 2019 by BOA Books, Ltd..In 2021 BOA will publish his collection Among Elms, in Ambush.This March the Writers Association Publishing House in Ha Noi, Viet Nam, will publish his co-translation with the author of Nguyen Quang Thieu’s Slaughterhouse, a book-length poem.