MEMORY OF MY FATHER
reverently dedicated to my dear Dad’s spirit
Whilst boarding the
aircraft to fly towards the ocean
I suddenly pitied my father, tears flowing out of emotion.
When that April national calamity forced me to flee
I left our country piloting my plane to the sea.
from parents because of the bloodshed,
So many years in high wind and heavy rain overhead
And finally came flooded with distress one day
I did not know it was the last goodbye for ever to say!
dear Dad, how could I know, on your part
You wished each drop of blood to return to your heart.
So many years you had desperately inquired after me
Anxiously fearing a “killed in action” notice to see.
dear Dad! I shall never forget that bad day
I learned the sad news that you had passed away:
I became numb with grief, tears unable to flow;
I wanted to cry but burst out laughing madly in woe.
eighteen years afterwards, I have not once returned
And have neither fulfilled citizen obligations so yearned.
In this foreign land how I feel an unsuitable location:
Days after days only to think of means of sustentation.
dear Dad! an innermost storm has arisen; it boils;
Your precious admonition has since spun into coils
To tie tightly around my heart, imprint in my mind,
So that times I compress my lips blood to ooze to bind.
country is in ruins! To strive to be a worthy man
You must try to become useful through your life’s span!
Hold your head up, my son! to be a Viet youth, an heir
To our ancestors’ heroic examples that are still there!”
dear Dad! I have always pondered on my concern
About living in exile while nurturing the hope of return.
But days have passed and months elapsed, shamefast,
My hair has turned grey but the ocean is still vast.
a tree for a quarter of a century uprooted already
Now replanted in a foreign region, how hard to steady!
Having a homeland but not having a space
For me to get back to find a sheltering place!
boarded the plane to head towards the waves
To go to Atlanta but felt as to Vung Tau that craves...
I was staggered and tried to restrain my pain
For fear of bursting into tears mixed with blood stain.
Vietnamese poem by YÊN SƠN
English translation by THANH-THANH