Category Archives: Writings

breathe

hơi thở

I want to take your hand and gently place your palm on my cheek
to let my whole being enclosed in the shelter of your presence
then timidly I shall clasp your fingers
but fear no force, for tenderness is my only strength
like spring petals caught in a wanderer’s hair
you wouldn’t even notice.

I shall steal a breath from your skin
then fill the space between your fingers with mine
for a breath is the only tangible trace
that I could keep of you in this physical world
where you will never be mine, but it’s alright
because the air you give
makes me stay alive.

a walk in the swamp

IMG_3946

an autumn afternoon’s fading warmth
an ephemeral glow on the swamp
the geese sing melancholic notes
flapping their wings along the river
shining golden canebrake.

From Het Bossche Broek, ’s-Hertogenbosch, March ‘17. Photo and translation by me.

  • swamp [ENG] ; broek [NL] : an area of low-lying, waterlogged, uncultivated ground ; a bog or marsh.

blank canvas

I look at heavy clouds as they fill in the space
between the high-rise block and the pine trees’ top
like a child coloring a picture
through the classroom’s window frame

The view transports me back to high school
those March days where the light was new and pure and fresh
the world was born again
and for a while
we could finally breathe

there I sat in our old classroom
me staring out the window
you staring at me
secretly
both of us
looking forwards
to something yet to grow
but already born
like green sprouts stirring under spring’s moist ground

I was alone in my gaze of the sky
so were you in your gaze of me
two universes
apart
yet together
in the solitary exercise
of silenced affection

The clouds are now long gone, and the canvas blank again
there I draw my vision
of us being in the same room
locked in our own solitude
comforted by parallel secrets
and I keep fixing on the empty space
between the high-rise block and the pine trees’ top
in fear of the picture erased.

bóc cam

hôm nay ốm
tôi ngồi
bóc quả cam

bên kia đường
có toà nhà
cầu thang bọc kính
trên tường gắn
chiếc đèn
màu cam

những đêm không ngủ
tôi ngồi ngắm
một nửa chiếc đèn
tôi tưởng
là trăng

phòng tôi cũng có
chiếc đèn màu cam
trên trần nhà
tròn như lòng đỏ
trứng gà
tôi nhìn trời
qua cửa kính
cũng tưởng
là trăng

năm giờ chiều
trời xanh nức nở
nhưng hôm nay
tôi chỉ thấy vàng

những ô cửa
ấm sực ánh đèn vàng
mọi hôm tôi đâu thấy
hôm nay
chỉ tại miếng cam

tôi phơi vỏ cam
trên lò sưởi
những mảnh trăng trôi
cam chữa lành tôi
nhưng tôi lại xé nát
nước cam
ước đẫm ngón tay
nhỏ từng giọt
lên sàn
tôi rạch miếng vỏ
để tinh dầu
nhuộm không khí
thành cam

hai màu cơ bản
hôm nay
tôi chọn màu vàng.

Thảo

February is a blue romance

February | noun

the second month of the year, in the northern hemisphere usually considered the last month of winter.

ORIGIN: Middle English feverer, from Old French feverier, based on Latin februarius, from februa, the name of a purification feast held in this month.

I was born in February, therefore, I’ve always felt a vague but strong connection with this month. If I’d been born in June or November, I wouldn’t have identified with it as much as I do with February.

Today the weather is terribly cold. The humid air completely numbs my senses, turning me into a congealed fish. As I notice the clouds eating half of the tallest building in the city, I recall that February is coming. My February, my month, my winter. My season drown in mist.

I want to read something, so I search for poetry about February. But all they talk about is the month of Saint Valentine, of roses and broken hearts. That’s unexpected to me as I’ve never thought of February that way and I never will. My month doesn’t have the figure of romance, but of serene solitude. And if there should be a love story, then it would be a quiet and inconspicuous romance with a suspended ending. Of too much desire, in too much repression.

I learn from the dictionary that February is the month of purification. In other words, as my friend – my dear February friend from childhood – said, “we are saints”. I smile at the idea that we were born to save humans from themselves. I don’t really know what it means, but it sounds appropriate.

So February is coming and I’m freezing to death like a congealed fish. Maybe they were right about the Valentine thing. February might be an intimate season, but not for those who were born in it.