Hue: From a Notebook
We went down the Perfume River by dragon boat
as far as the pagoda of the three golden Buddhas.
Pray here. You can ask for happiness.
We light joss sticks, send votives downriver in paper sacks,
then have trouble disembarking from the boat.
Our bodies disembark, but our souls remain.
A thousand lanterns drift, a notebook opens in the dark
to a page where moonlight makes a sound.
These soldiers are decades from war now:
pewter-haired, steel-haired, a moon caught in plumeria.
We are like the clouds that pass and pass.
What does it matter then if we are not the same as clouds?
There was then the whir of stork wings, and bicycle chains ringing.
It is still now the way the air is still just before the mine explodes.
Once we fired at each other. Now we pass silence back and forth.
On the ten thousand graves, we lay chrysanthemum.