She Doesn’t Believe She Exists in this World
Her life is a search for herself in the present jungle.
The people who traveled before her didn’t leave any signs on the old roads
And she is the first person to step into her life itself.
Was she born? Did she raise her first cry?
Did she open her eyes to see her first dawn?
Did she see her two breasts growing
And shining like two stars in the night?
Did she walk? Did she smile?
Did she cry for her suffering? Did she sing?
Did she make a fire for cooking? Did she turn on the light when night comes?
Did she take off her clothes to lay down beside him?
Did she give birth to a child? Was she a mother?
Was she a lover? Was she a happy woman?
Is she standing before the house under the sun?
But still she cries and says
–………….. I am only an illusion
But your mother, who suffered pain to give birth to you, called you.
–………….. My mother is an illusion and gave birth to another illusion, that is me,
But you are here, putting flowers into the vase.
–………….. Flowers are an illusion. The vase is an illusion of flowers. And I am an illusion watching another illusion
But you are writing a letter to your lover
–………….. An illusion is writing letters that are an illusion.
But you think of your lover in sorrow every night.
–………….. I am an illusion and I carry with me my life of sorrows.
But you are a mirror looking at yourself in the mirror.
–………….. The mirror is an illusion to mirror another illusion.
You are real so you can distinguish illusion.
–………….. An illusion is the panic of other illusions
You are answering the questions, so you are real
–………….. An illusion answering illusionary questions.
I am talking with you, so who am I?
–………….. You are an illusion of your own illusions.
She cried and fell down on the bed. She fell asleep in her hopelessness.
Sleep is a real, and she doesn’t realize that
Sleep erases all illusions. But when she gets up
She is painfully faced with illusions
That are opening…
She is hungry
for an Illusion of food.
She is thirsty
for an illusion of water and lakes.
She is in the house
with its Illusion of protection.
She is walking on a road
with the illusion of motion.
She is cold
with the illusion of winter.
She is calling
With the illusion of language.
She leaves everything.
She is gone and lonely.
She is thirsty for permanent sleep.
She believes that sleep is a place
Where the present
Is a permanent present
That will save her
And in her permanent sleep
She will meet a dream
Which is the only thing that lets her believe
She is real.
With bare feet, he walks to her.
He takes off her clothes
As if unfolding a small piece of cloth
To cover a tiny bird
Trembling on its slender feet,
And flapping its wings from time to time,
Although it could not think to fly to the sky.
Nguyen Quang Thieu is one of Viet Nam’s most widely read writers, and the author of over forty books of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, children’s literature, and poetry and fiction in translation. For over thirty years he has worked closely with Kevin Bowen at the William Joiner Center for the Study of War and its Social Consequences at U-Mass. Boston on a variety of translation and cultural exchange projects, forging a new understanding between our two countries. He is currently President of the Viet Nam Writers Association, a Ministerial position in Viet Nam, where he has devoted his energies to supporting writers in Viet Nam and to spreading Vietnamese Literature across the globe.
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