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Green Rice (Curbstone, 2005)

Green Rice cover

Poems by Lam Thi My Da, one of Vietnam's most important poets, a woman who experienced the Vietnam-American War directly. Translated by Martha Collins and Thuy Dinh.

From Green Rice

Garden Fragrance

Last night a bomb exploded on the veranda
But sounds of birds sweeten the air this morning
I sense the fragrant trees, look in the garden
Find two silent clusters of ripe guavas

Row of Camphor Trees

Often when I feel sad
I come here, by your side
Oh vault of camphor trees
My green paradise

The leaves are bright green discs:
The trees sow jade in the sky
And wind falls like fruit
Whispering into the distance

Walking beneath the trees
I know I'm not a child
The trees grow taller each day
And I grow older

Regret changes nothing
The yellow leaf? It falls
The yellow leaf is a door
Shutting earth from sky

But though the scent of camphor
May drift and fade away
It keeps returning in sleep
Like deep thirst

There's a row of camphor trees
That holds me here in Hue
A row of camphor trees
That greens my sadness

Night Harvest

White circles of conical hats have come out
Like the quiet skies of our childhood
Like the wings of storks spread in the night
White circles evoking the open sky

The golds of rice and cluster-bombs blend together
Even delayed-fuse bombs bring no fear
Our spirits have known many years of war
Come, sisters, let us gather the harvest

Each of us wears her own small moon
Glittering on a carpet of gold rice
We are the harvesters of my village
Twelve white hats bright in the long night

We are not frightened by bullets and bombs in the air
Only by dew wetting our lime-scented hair

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