THE DAYS DAD GOT IMPRISONED
harrowing were the days Dad got imprisoned:
could hardly sleep, got her eyes wet, rings wizened.
the tiny rootstock Mom spared for me: how sad!
was so hungry, Dad!
cow feces I bore on my head across the river,
dripped from the basket, salted my lips.
heartless stream was still flowing to make me shiver.
Dad! such storms had risen to break life into chips.
the flood, Mom dried the damp hay nearly kaput;
her back, she carried on either slender shoulder
burden of family responsibility, bareheaded, barefoot;
staggered, listlessly calling for Dad, the householder...
Months had thus slipped away, and years gone by;
still hid and rested her life in thatch, straw and slime.
concealed my youth in such sadness as the immense sky,
Shouldering my days struggling to drain the sea of time.
Vietnamese poem by NGUYỄN THỊ BÍCH NGỌC
English translation by THANH-THANH