Mai Van Phan (Vietnam) / Poems and Bio of MVP to Tatjana Debeljacki

 

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Mai Van Phan (Vietnam)

 

Biography of Mai Văn Phấn

Vietnamese poet Mai Văn Phấn was born 1955 in Ninh Bình, Red River Delta in North Vietnam. Currently, he is living and writing poems in Hải Phòng city. He has won several national literary awards of Vietnam. He has published 24 poetry books, 11 of which were several times reprinted or reprinted with adjustments in English, French, Spanish, Thai, Turkey, Albanian, Hin-ddi (India)…

  • Giọt nắng (Drops of Sunlight, Hải Phòng Union of Literature and Arts Associations, 1992);
  • Gọi xanh (Calling to the Blue, Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 1995);
  • Cầu nguyện ban mai (Prayers to Dawn, Hải Phòng Publishing House, 1997);
  • Nghi lễ nhận tên (Ritual of Naming, Hải Phòng Publishing House, 1999);
  • Người cùng thời (People of the Era, Hải Phòng Publishing House, 1999);
  • Vách nước (Water Wall, Hải Phòng Publishing House, 2003);
  • Hôm sau (The Day After, Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2009);
  • và đột nhiên gió thổi (and Suddenly the Wind Blows, Literature Publishing House, 2009);
  • Bầu trời không mái che (Vietnamese-only version of Firmament Without Roof Cover, Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2010);
  • Thơ tuyển Mai Văn Phấn (Mai Văn Phấn: Selected Poems – essays and the interviews, Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2011);
  • hoa giấu mặt (hidden-face Flower, Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2012);
  • Bầu trời không mái che / Firmament Without Roof Cover (bilingual 2nd edition, Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2012);
  • Vừa sinh ra ở đó (Just Born There, Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2013);
  • Những hạt giống của đêm và ngày / Seeds of Night and Day (Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2013);
  • A Ciel Ouvert / Firmament Without Roof Cover (Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2014);
  • Buông tay cho trời rạng / Out of the Dark (Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2013);
  • Ra vườn chùa xem cắt cỏ / Grass Cutting in a Temple Garden (Page Addie Press of the UK, 2014);
  • Zanore në vesë / Vowels in The Dew (BOTIMET M&B, Albania, 2014);
  • บุษบาซ่อนหน้า hidden face flower / hoa giấu mặt (Artist’s House, Thailand, 2014);
  •  Yên Tử Dağının Çiçeği (The Flower of Mount Yên Tử, ŞİİRDEN YAYINCILIK, Turkey, 2015);
  • “The Selected Poems of Mai Văn Phấn” (Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2015);
  • The Secrets of Light (Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2015);
  • thả (Letting Go, Publishing House of The Vietnam Writer’s Association, 2015);
  • आलाप प्रतिलाप (Echo of the Aalap, Publishing House of Kritya, India, 2016)…

Simultaneously on the book distribution network of Amazon, the collections Firmament Without Roof Cover, Seeds of Night and Day, Out Of The Dark, Grass Cutting in a Temple Garden, A Ciel Ouvert was published and exclusively released in the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia and European countries by Page Addie Press of the UK.

December 2012, the English collection titled Firmament without Roof Cover became one of the 100 best-selling poetry books of Amazon.
June 2014, the three collections in Vietnamese and English titled Ra vườn chùa xem cắt cỏ (Grass Cutting in a Temple Garden) and Những hạt giống của đêm và ngày (Seeds of Nights and Day) as well as his Vietnamese-French collection titled Bầu trời không mái che (A Ciel Ouvert/ Firmament without Roof Cover) were among the top ten of the 100 best-selling poetry collections from Asia on Amazon.
Poems of Mai Văn Phấn were introduced in newspapers and magazines of Sweden, New Zealand, the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, India, Albania, Turkey, South Korea, Hongkong, Indonesia and Thailand…

 

 

Poems by Mai Van Phan (Vietnam)

 

 

Oh Buffalo Calf!

 

Steam early in morning garden deep into the night

Rising high to the edge of silky grass

More smooth than the layer of fuzz

Green up windy

 

Buffalo-calf look for his mother

Respire into clouds the sound of rice fields, tree buds

Knocking the hooves on the ground

 

The round ball rushing bouncing up

Mole- cricket, mantis throwing the pair of sturdily built pincer

 

The early sunshine illuminate on body of buffalo-calf

Spreading out the caressing eyes look

 

Interchange of season the vault of green leaves stretch tightly

Hiding underneath of bridge waiting for buffalo-calf

 

I run after my shadow to roll it back

Feet touch the grass bouncing up high.

 

(Trans. by Tran Nghi Hoang. Edited by Frederick Turner)

 

 

The Scent of Cốm(*)

 

Autumn returns in shy

Vague mist upon the green rice.

 

That dress, that scarf, as smooth as silk, the skin, the flesh…

The north-east wind is rising up to heaven.

 

Rhythm of pounding Cốm, bustling season of the sticky rice:

Baskets slowly sieving out the husk. Ruddy

 

Fragrant grapefruit moistens the sunny drought.

Pureness the inflorescences ohmantus fragans

 

Between heaven and earth the lotus tuber after rain

Tormented by a deep longing at each tightening circling roll.

 

The green lotus leaves are giving suck to you and me,

Over-ripening the horizon clouds of summer

 

To nights of making love in lamplit silence,

Persimmons drenched with the fragrance of flawless Cốm.

 

(Trans. by Tran Nghi Hoang. Edited by Frederick Turner)

 

 

__________

(*) Cốm: green rice flakes, green rice; grilled rice. A Vietnamese special traditional snack make from young sweet rice. Rice growing farmers are the only ones who truly understand when it is time to gather young grains to make Cốm. Then young rice grains are harvested, roasted and ground down to become Cốm. They are put into a large firing pan under small flames and stirred slowly for a specific period of time. They are then poured into a rice mortar and slightly pounded with a wooden pestle, rythmically and at quick intervals until the husk is removed. Following this, the young rice is removed from the mortar and winnowed before being poured again into the mortar and the process repeated. This is then repeated exactly seven times so that all the husk is removed from the young sticky grains. If the pounding is done irregularly and in haste, or it is not repeated for the prescribed seven times, the green colour of the grains will disappear and be replaced by an unexpected brown colour. Cốm is regarded as a purely pastoral gift. To enjoy Cốm, it is advisable to chew it slowly so that one can feel the stickiness of the young rice and at the same time enjoy its sweet, fragrant taste. Visitors to Vong village (about five km from Hanoi) during the Cốm making season will have a chance to listen to the special rythmic pounding of wooden pestles against mortars filled with young rice and see women shifting and winnowing the pounded young rice.

 

 

Wind Crest

 

I.

 

Crawling on sharp top of the rock

Body of the wind is scratches

 

Blood of the wind is rain

Sunshine dripping down

 

Mountains roll the kiss up high

Gray clouds cast into block

 

Mountains open wide the arms, trampling the feet into ground

Crushing up into fragments

Tear off body of the wind into pieces

The starlight falling

Morning bursting out

 

Up to the top of slope in a flash

Open eye looking down

 

The kisses heaping up higher

The frenzy wind rolls up on another crest.

 

II.

 

Finding your mouth to sowing

Wind tender clinging the limbs of land

Plunge down to the abyss

 

Rotten the bowels of hills and mountains

Chest of wind drifting

Playing on the ground

 

The shell cracked flashing

Spring overflowing the grain mouth

 

Waiting to sprout the cotyledons

Wind carry the ground away.

 

III.

 

Shut tight the door the more wind blew

Thing suddenly remembered also breathlessly, tightness across the chest

 

The eye of wind swept me into your

Rotating quickly round and round

 

Swiftly pass a bridge

My body was bending down by the wind

Drooping down like wet towel across the railing

Dripping down to the swift-flowing river.

 

Remembering the train cutting through body of the wind

Column of smoke overturned and sound of the siren disappeared in an instant

 

My breath is constringent through the trumpet-reed

Glared flashing the pressure of eagle spreading wide

Raising fragile dragonfly wings

Backrest cavalier on the wind crest

 

Outside the vault of leaves disorder

Stirred, tattered, to satisfy the frenzied excitement

The inhibition of lust.

 

(Trans. by Tran Nghi Hoang. Edited by Frederick Turner)

 

 

The Rock Inside Stream Bed

 

Be quiet for water flowing

Swift, deep, unending, icy cold over the rock.

 

Is there the Spring?

Festoon climbing the trail

Voice of birds resounding down gurgling

 

Shadows of trees tremble on the rock, shade or sun–

How can the colors of wildflowers could unscathed forever?

The stone closes its eyes in calm to let the water sweep across it.

 

Langurs with ashen thighs(*)

Cause the tree-shadows again to bob and rise;

Gentle drizzling rain disordered flies

Creeping into the deepest crevices.

 

Clouds stop where the clouds…

The fragrant odor of ripe guava creeps through the forest

A porcupine ruffles up its quills, goes still.

 

Above all in this moment

Let’s stay put at the spot where you are at

 

(Trans. by Tran Nghi Hoang. Edited by Frederick Turner)

 

 

_________

(*) A kind of gibbon (vọoc chà vá chân xám or ‘vọoc Java (?) chân

xám’) Scientific name: Pygathrix cinerea.

 

 

The Flower of Mount Yên Tử(*)

 

It blooms on the mountain top

Serene in strong winds

Under the clouds of change

 

Seven hundred years ago

The Buddha King Trần Nhân Tông

Lowered his head when passing by

 

You and I

Lower our heads when passing by

The children

Also lower their heads

When passing by

 

As we descend the mountain

We meet the pilgrims

Holding small bamboo canes

All eyes turn upward

As we amass heat to burn the flower to its roots.

 

(Trans. by Lê Đình Nhất-Lang. Edited by Susan Blanshard)

 

___________

(*) The Yên Tử mountain in Quảng Ninh province. On the top of Yên Tử has Chùa Đồng Buddhist temple founded. It is a cloud-kissing mountain with its 1,068 km hight above the sea level. It was first built during the rule of the Lê dynasty, nearly 250 years ago.

 

 

Notes Taken at the Great Wall

 

Clouds are stacked like heavy boulders on my shoulders

My eyes blurring in the blowing sands

which fill my lungs with every breath

 

Is the Great Wall still being built?

In the air the voice of a eunuch blasts out a decree

Anyone who creates poetry while carrying boulders

will be beaten until they spew out blood

End of decree!

 

Looking up I see a sagging face

cold hands, leaden eyes, gravel voice

The roof of a beacon tower in crimson red

bares the shape of a bloody blue dragon saber on his neck

 

I bend my back to cart sunlight away

I thrust my legs to cart wind away

Anything to get near that flower

waving lively in strong wind.

 

Your Majesty / Dear Sir / Reporting to Comrade…

This lowly officer / base citizen / humble self…

will fulfill his responsibilities

 

Whether this is the top of sky

or bottom of abyss

I only feel your burning whip lash on my back

 

On gray stone, travelers’ sweat

blooms into poppies.

 

(Trans. by Lê Đình Nhất-Lang. Edited by Susan Blanshard)

 

 

From Our Home

 

You gather things according to their seasons

a bunch of grapefruit flowers for autumn

plums for spring

 

We are the pulse of air, deep abyss, breasts of soil

we choose warm places to set our furniture

uncluttered places to put our tables and chairs

 

We drop our worries at the dinner table

with chopsticks we pick vegetables from the field afar

the fish bites on the bait inside our clay pot

 

We love the footprints near the rice stubble

deep wells, streams and rivers, ponds and puddles

 

Don’t sit in the room too long

go out into the field, out to the river bank

where leaves grow green and fish wriggle

 

Bite on fresh pineapple or sweet orange

and let juice drop on brown soil.

 

(Trans. by Lê Đình Nhất-Lang. Edited by Susan Blanshard)

 

 

Sleep-walking

(For the writer Bùi Ngọc Tấn)

 

You toast

With your smile that scars the stone surface

Crystal trembles in your hand

 

You drink up the bird calls

Dropping rotten footprints all over the cold stony veranda

Your blanket covers restless insect lives

You breathe each other

In unusual rains

 

A bowl deeply sunken as carved by a breast

A caged boar’s juice to spurt on a wooden pig*

You’re lucky to live through fits

As eyes of relatives amend your things

 

A blanket on white fields

Words make the soil pregnant

Through aberrations…

 

Grabbing the night wall

You have stood up who-knows-when

Someone pours into your sleepwalking steps

 

One more glass

One more…

 

(Trans. by Lê Đình Nhất-Lang. Edited by Susan Blanshard)

 

_________________

* In his novel, Bùi tells the story of a boar which is caged for too long. Upon release, it jumps on a wooden pig and performs copulation.

 

 

The Soul Flew Away…

 

A spider’s hammock being torn by the lifting fog

Returns freedom to the soft tongues of grass

 

The drifting clouds rub out

A horizon which has just buried darkness

 

Blood resurrected within the ground

Turns into young sap welling up at each falling leaf

 

While long-suffering shadows remain silent

The thrush bursts out a firework of calls

 

Buds are shooting up dividing walls

As arteries of streams clear and circulate

 

Tongues made of glass break into voices

To discuss each discolored photo

 

The words in a notebook having dreamed of fire

Just before they become ashes, suddenly come to

 

When moving out, one has tossed the incense sticks’ leftovers into the river

So one wonders why fragrant smoke still lingers…

 

(Trans. by Lê Đình Nhất-Lang. Edited by Susan Blanshard)

 

 

Variations on a Rainy Night

 

Rain comes at last

And thunder rumbles

Tender shoots strip naked in darkness

The land tries to hide its barren dryness

When roots feel their way into our chest

 

Together we desire

And together we recall

A leafy cone hat and raincoat or lightning across the sky

Night lies down with all the tombs

Its black shirt still hung in the trees

 

Together things cool down

And together things echo

The sounds get lost inside our deep sleep

Where countless upside-down dreams are shattered

In this cool, expanding, reverberating rain water.

 

(Trans. by Lê Đình Nhất-Lang. Edited by Susan Blanshard)

 

 

Holding You in My Mouth

 

I always believe you are in my mouth

 

Where there is no war, no plague

No poisonous arrow furtively shot

No rumours, no traps, no deception

Where you tread has no sharp thorns

And I will raise up a wall against all raging storms

 

You gently push your shoulders,

Your chest, your toes against my cheeks

Talkative and silently singing

You innocently let my tongue and teeth touch your body

Secure in my mouth

 

I am a fish overfilled with moonlight

And leaving my school I leap into the sea in movements.

 

(Trans. by Nguyen Tien Van. Edited by Susan Blanshard)

 

 

 

Hearing You on the Phone

 

On the phone your voice sounds clear and light

A drop of water just absorbed

A sprout just emerged

A ripe fruit just dropped down

A spring just flowing on

In the distance, at the other end of the line, there are rice-fields, villagers carrying bamboo poles and baskets. Vehicles  and towers. Deep roots. Your voice does not cross over them but turns them into miniatures, and opens passage doors of communication between them. I hear you and with the help of deep roots, I can open up multiple sacred layers inside the warm earth; the river flows into the poles and baskets; the villages give birth to towers of fertility; the rice fields are green against traffic vehicles.

Please say more spontaneous nonsense to me.

In a moment when you put down the receiver, perhaps all things would dissolve away or return to the way they were

Only left with the rippling of waves far away

  Only left with the chlorophyll dispersing

  Only left with the fragrance of tenderness

  And the rocky banks in all their trembling

 

(Trans. by Nguyen Tien Van. Edited by Susan Blanshard)

 

 

 

Carrying the Water Basin

 

It was raining

I carried the basin of water

From the closed and warm room

 

The rain was drumming on the tin roof

On each step of the staircase

My body and my breath

Were fused into the basin

 

Suddenly in my imagination emerged the images of:

… pursuing you in the rain…

… you are bare-headed,dripping and soaked…

… I wear warm clothes, holding an umbrella…

… I am at leisure… you are at ease…

… you whizz past… I run out of breath…

… I keep my promise… never let you be wet…

 

But it’s so strange

When the water basin is held high

And your images appear in fragments

Their montage shows nothing of empathy.

 

(Trans. by Nguyen Tien Van. Edited by Susan Blanshard)

 

 

Waking Up in the Rain

 

1.

 

I open the door on a dark day

The mist rushes in with its moisture

 

I stir up the furnace

To dry my coat and scarf

Of regrets

 

Still swallowing your kiss

I turn my head to look through the window

A pigeon lands on the porch roof

Rain attaching to purple wings

 

Spring wind is everywhere

A cobweb of veins rushes across the lime wall

 

No need to flap wings

No need to fly away

The pigeon and I

Sprout into green buds.

 

2.

 

The blanket so warm I cannot sleep

I imagine you come over and open up my ceiling

You untie your curls of hair and wrap me tight

You pull me up and keep me hovering in the night

 

You turn with the winds

Sometimes you let me touch

The lake’s icy surface

The exhausted soil

The dew soaked grass

 

Drop me down!

You drop me down!

 

At that moment I become a seed

Shooting out my roots and seed-leaves

 

For fruit to ripen, for good wine to be brewed

And for birds’ eggs to be kept warm through the night

I hold on to these images until morning.

 

3.

 

You drop me down like sowing seeds

 

I am awake when the wet greenery lights up the sky

Rain drops come together to play drums on the roof

The earth softens until our breathing spreads out fast

 

You draw up the blanket in shyness to cover your breasts

Just in case someone drops by to tidy up the room

 

In that unfinished dream

Suddenly new leaves sprout up in droves

 

Inside each other we bury small seeds

They are dropped in with early morning kisses.

 

4.

 

The earth begins a new revolution

A faster one

 

The sun has gone home with darkness

The flora, footprints

And houses with doors shut tight

 

Worker bees fly back

When the hive and the queen bee are no more

The scent of earth finds the rain drops strange

 

The sky horse is delirious with speed

It staggers while tightly grasping tree branches

The eagle spreads its wings on the mountain top

The sea suffocates a river’s mouth

 

I kiss you for a long time to mark

This place. This hour

When clouds descend

The earth returns to the original day.

 

5.

 

A bird nest bloody with dirt

Coils from forest trees

A running stream

Woven by a vision

 

From you I am born into one, two, three…

Multiplying into thousands

This me

And this me too

 

One, two, three… I kiss you

The bird’s nest full of sunlight

Reeks of forest bulbs

And is filled with the scent of forest flowers

 

No matter where we are

We weave into each other to make another nest.

 

6.

 

We are together more

Before a transparent dawn rises up

 

Flowers suddenly wake unfolding under shades of trees

A water spider dwells in decaying straws

Vetiver roots

Are twisting deep underground

 

The flowing current

Keeps flowing

Holding the two of us back

 

Each kiss opens one more door

We hold each other’s hand tightly

Clutch each other’s arm tightly

For fear of finding loss

 

Bewildered as a heavy rain comes

We recognize our childish hands

Our tottering feet

Walking on earth

 

Perhaps the day is late

Yet we are still in each other’s arms waiting to see dawn.

 

7.

 

The photo shows you walking on a stony seashore

Incidentally I take it as another picture

Seeing you as a small dot in a field

Very lightly drawn with just a drop of color

 

A slope of smooth sand

The path to shore being the field

Your hair wrapped by wind around a silent branch

 

I wish that a fearless flock of birds could fly into this moment.

And swoops down to collect grains of paddy rice

 

I will forgive the hungry meadow mice emerging from their earthly dwellings

Forgive the rainstorm making heads of rice drop

Forgive the scalding sunlight

For all the sun can give

Rosy sunlight, late afternoon sunlight

Which make each blossoming rice field glow at once.

 

 

Waves on the Bạch Ðằng river run over

The deposits on my shoulder

 

I drive a pile deeply in to anchor a kite

While thanking my father and mother

 

Roots of mangrove and cork tree silently twine together

Reeds at water edges stir under the sun

 

Brooding in the grass

Burying itself in your tiny hand

 

A big fish is thrown on the ground.

 

 

I bend down to pick up any object – a pebble, a blade of dried straw, somebody’s thread of hair… My memories remind me of the clothes you wear, peeled off shoes, areas of flesh.

 

My touch lets me know the pebble is very soft, the blade of dried straw bends under its weight, the thread of hair breathes lightly.

 

I hold them for a very long time.

Toss them to the ground. Fling them up to the sky and catch a rain drop

 

I stretch out my arms and breathe

My wide-spanning body

Opens up to water

 

My body

A tiny door

 

I bend my body in the coolness

And relax

I rearrange my bones

The current washes away every dead cell

 

I lie down in the grass and breathe in deeply

Compressing the sky

A bird call blows up a high wind

 

To be a seed, the hand that sows

To be fishing bait, a fish trap, seaweed…

 

Waves come relentlessly

Pouring onto an imaginary ship’s deck.

 

 

My tongue’s tip touches the cream

Shaped as a flower

A horizon drawn by somebody

 

I bite hastily

And eat hesitantly

Wanting you to know I am here

 

This half-finished cake

A flock of ducks paddling by

Nectar season for bees

 

A cake which has been in the oven becomes soft and fine

Place a slice next to a fragrant cup of tea and a sharp knife.

 

12.

 

I miss you as I read a book. A scene envisioned from these pages is animated in a powdery silver light. A character from the story has just washed his hands with gleaming moonlight. The flesh imbued scent of moon flows down a deep groove in the ground, from where, now and again, a reed stalk rises up and wavers. The text continues with the scene of fog descending on a small village. A young barefooted woman carries rice into the forest. A skirt of forest full of moonlight. A man lies asleep, dreaming of wild mangosteens arranged into a throne, awaiting his awakening… Light isn’t mentioned in the text. I imagine images under the moonlight. Those stories full of moonlight.

 

13.

 

From black cavities holding inserted seeds

Young shoots rise up

Birds fly

 

The tender roots know

That earth has embraced sky for a long time

 

As soon as seed coats are dropped

They release greenness to the vast fields

Brimming with sweet sap

 

As days grow deeper

Young shoots covering the soil turn luxuriant.

 

 

The fresh rose stigmas

And the pure white petals

Open a sky of breath

 

I breathe green grass

Rugged rocks, an edge of abyss

The breath’s of gibbons, wild as their flesh

 

The flowers’ delirious scents and colors

Touch me and fade away

They fade away

 

My lips turn into the bill of a hummingbird

Whose wings beat constantly to stay in the same place.

 

15.

 

Bones of winter

Flesh of spring

Lilies open their immaculate, white petals

 

A vague fragrance

Fills up the room

 

I reach for the flower vase

And turn all the sepals in another direction

 

Bright green flower stalks lean on me

 

Waiting for each drop of pristine

White grounds to be blown on top like a storm.

 

16.

 

It’s fruit-bearing season for the trees

They hold the wind inside and become heavy

 

I am the nutrients

To relieve all trees from fatigue

 

I lean against a tree trunk

Listening to bird songs

My blood flows along the trees’ bones

As I pollinate the stamens

 

While young fruit buds

My saliva is acrid when swallowed

 

The wind wraps me on a tree

For its fruit to ripen.

 

17.

 

A giant flower

Hugs me in my sleep

 

Its stalk reaches through the sky

And I can’t see its root

 

Throughout my dream the flower hardly withers

As morning comes each petal shrinks

Into a bud

 

I have been through a lifetime of dreaming

To wake up into a lifetime of loving

 

As I run towards where the current of scents ends

I see a pathway

 

When I touch a tiny flower

All flower stems on this earth tremble.

 

 

Rain drops touch my face and lightly stir.

 

In the sound of rain, aquatic beasts rise, their fish-like fins gliding back and forth. A shrimp bends and springs in my wave-choked body.

 

Let water not drizzle or drip. Let it drain into lakes and streams making rocks soften and expand.

 

My bare arms prop up a tree trunk. Buds are wet.

Some rain drops touch my skin and my tongue, suggesting curves and a waist of rain.

 

Thunder rolls at the very moment I imagine a big fish splashes its way out of my body. It emerges, then swims away calmly in the rain.

 

19.

 

I look at a flamboyant canopy and see fluffy strands of early fog move over the lake

A smile like agitated waves

 

You often forget this lake by your side

Its mist rises as you talk, smile and make up

 

On your way you feel suddenly cool

Everywhere you go the lake follows

Someone splashes water on each organ

Waves draw you away, then submerge you to their deep bottom

 

You open the door and look into a crowded street

An electric wire from your neighbor’s has dropped down across an artemisia pot

 

Nearby the lake spreads out

Turns into your eyes looking at me.

 

  1. 20.

 

Not knowing how many flowers there are in the vase

I bow down to a lotus pedestal

 

I remember having sat on a chair

Holding a glass of water

Leaning on the table

 

The lotus scent carries me to a mountain top

On its peak, clouds fly past

There is no footstep or sound from any forest animal

 

I remember being a bullet, a thorn

A sharp and pointed arrow soaked with lotus blood on rocks

 

Now why do I still think of a piercing arrow, a bullet and a thorn?

 

The pure scent of flowers covers the mountain rocks

It covers the bare vegetation where soil is void

A lizard grows bold

In a space vacant of human beings

 

I raise my head so the lotus scent no longer carries me away

Look here, one… two… petals have fallen

Touching the ground with a sound.

 

  1. 21.

 

A photo is smooth and aromatic

From morning sunlight

And a lotus flower next to it.

 

All those pure white petals

Spread out to cover the whole space

 

Following the scent

I slip inside your eyes

Your jewels, clothes and scarves

 

I open a drawer to find a notebook

Choose the colors for my paper and ink

Let my tea draw

Leaf to boiling water

 

As I set myself tasks

Some new flowers have bloomed

Next to the picture frame without a door.

 

  1. 22.

 

Pour water down

It permeates

In the dry ground, the sound of roots dying

 

Roots, bristling and bloodless, are floundering

Where are you that swing and sway, where is all that is verdant?

Where is this photosynthesis?

 

Once touched by water

Roots take flight

 

Bodies swell with sap flowing to the tree top

Cracks open the bark

The soil and space

 

Where is the wind?

Where are the birds?

 

Someone shakes the tree trunk for one moment

 

Just as I think it over,

Cool water spreads all over my body.

 

  1. 23.

 

Hiding inside me

You hear me being silent, talking or laughing

Our feet are within each other’s

Your hands are for me to use

 

Midsummer

Sunlight from relentless waves

Shimmers and sparkles

You raise my hand to cover your face

 

Schools of fish show their silvery scales

They cut straight lines on water

Dividing the sea surface into many parts

 

My heart is infused by this beautiful scenery

Which dissolves

In the blue waves as I look upon you

 

You lying in my heart

Why don’t you whisper something to me.

 

  1. 24.

 

Biting on an apple, you say

That inside there is a sea

A sweet and fragrant sea current

 

The sea ripens on a tree

The sea bed

Deep earth with tree roots

 

An estuary encases our lips

Nibbling at the shore

It stops where we are standing

Where people are making love

 

Far out in the sea the water is sweet

At the spring

The rainwater is still sweet

 

You say although it is as small as an apple

If I lie the sea will submerge me to death.

 

  1. 25.

 

A tree trunk stands

Holding up a sky of ripened fruit.

 

  1. 26.

 

… the rain penetrates …

 

Waves are mute

Mountains are unmoved

Stiff roots criss cross

Bird eggs lie under mother bird’s belly

A lizard stays immobilized

Bells stop ringing

Clouds swirl around a tower top

The pavement stands momentarily still

… the rain penetrates

 

Waves hurl themselves down a gorge

Bells ring endlessly

Birds flap their wings

The lizard leaves on a journey

With the pavement, the clouds, the trees…

 

 

We pull up the ground

to discover many grounds that we haven’t visited

 

Together we look at thousands of hidden cross sections

To realize we have changed yet remain naive forever

Tomorrow still in love

Our hearts beating wild like the first time

 

In my heavy breathing I know

Our hands hold seeds

Sow… Sow…

We sow…

 

Seeds unintentionally dropped on our way

Rise up as immense greenery

 

We pull up the ground so that cool air and bird calls

Are folded into deserted places

So that daylight resounds in deep earth

 

I am opening a myriad of doors into every object

Into other spaces. Other worlds.

 

(Trans. by Nhat-Lang Le. Edited by Susan Blanshard)

 

 

(amazon.com/author/maivanphan)

 

tatjana -2

Poems and Bio of MVP to Tatjana Debeljacki

 

 

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