My sister that New Year was sixteen, a naive civilian.
Her cheeks just began to grow rosy, her lips vermilion.
Her eyes symbolized the azure sky, her heart a green bud.
Her soul was filled with warmth, the spring sun lifeblood.

Although she was only sixteen,
So many guys had already dreamed of a wedding scene.
And many a virtuous mother even had wished pride
Of having her as hopefully her sonís well-behaved bride.

Pure and proper as the fragrance of pomelo flowers,
Her maidenhood had not been rippled by flirtation powers.
As time passed, it had added to her cheeks more rose
To illuminate the moonís light and dim the doveís pose.

One day from some deep jungle, a soldier, man of mettle,
Sent her a pink letter together with an orchid petal.
While she had not opened his letter yet,
Black April already set up a white mourning net.

How frightening!  Everywhere was full of blood and fire.
As if to break the sky exploded the Soviet missiles dire.
They shelled the populace and she was hit:
Golden dreams, green age, perfume and beauty to quit!

Her mom embraced her body, thought a nightmare maybe.
Her younger sister, yet an innocent baby,
Seeing their mother bitterly crying, also wept,
And inanely called her sister whose hand she dearly kept.

She lay motionless in her momís arms there
With her meek big and round eyes, with a fixed stare
In bewilderment with a thousand questions in her brain:
"Who has brought thunderstorms to this peaceful plain?"

War anywhere, in spirit rapture, they continued to expand.
She died with his letter still held in her hand.
Her blood gradually permeated to redden all words he sent.
-- Murderers!  You killed my sister, are you content?


                             Vietnamese poem by NG‘ MINH HẰNG

                             English translation by THANH-THANH