Saturday, March 19, 2005

bits & pieces of the old country

i have a fascination for language, especially those that are not really used much. especially the pretty ones.

so today i started learning how to write in nom which is a more or less dead writing system that used to be in use in vietnam. vietnamese was romanized thanks to the efforts of some catholic missionaries way back when so that christianity could be spread. gee whiz, yet another culture pawed by rome. but that is another story.

i am telling a happy one right now. well, sort of...

beauty is not always pretty, i believe...

i'm learning new ideograms/characters and am excited to write them with a brush. funny thing about ideograms, there is not really room for mispellings. if you misdraw the character, then you may be saying something completely different. well, i suppose it is like the spoken language as well. mess up the inflection and you may be cursing someone's ancestor or something...


there was a man sharing his story this morning. and there were parts of his life that held dark troubles for his soul. and i came across this poem today. i can't tell if i went looking for something like this. lately, things just turn up.

Bomb Crater Sky
by Lam Thi My Da

They say that you, a road builder
Had such love for our country
You rushed out and waved your torch
To call the bombs down on yourself
And save the road for the troops

As my unit passed on that worn road
The bomb crater reminded us of your story
Your grave is radiant with bright-colored stones
Piled high with love for you, a young girl

As I looked in the bomb crater where you died
The rain water became a patch of sky
Our country is kind
Water from the sky washes pain away

Now you lie down deep in the earth
As the sky lay down in that earthen crater
At night your soul sheds light
Like the dazzling stars
Did your soft white skin
Become a bank of white clouds?

By day I pass under a sun-flooded sky
And it is your sky
And that anxious, wakeful disc
Is it the sun, or is it your heart
Lighting my way
As I walk down the long road?

The name of the road is your name
Your death is a young girl's patch of blue sky
My soul is lit by your life

And my friends, who never saw you
Each has a different image of your face

Translated by Martha Collins and Thuy Dinh

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