Except I am too shy to speak that quietly
Author: Nhã Thuyên
Published on: 5/17/2016 2:46:39 PM

you, this hammock, a garden between two trees

a swarm of ants sing their sorrow, let’s leave this, this haunted stump

how many times must we clean the corpses

dreams, stories told and retold, quick episodes of love, episodes of purposely failed suicide, a bunch of words hidden in the hollow cold earth

you, i have waited for your dreams to illuminate the silent night grass

the heart shakes, the music of an illusion returns, you grow more and more distant, fingers turn pages of colorful silk, sheets of cornea and we

see the nature of skin in wisps there

the heart heard beating beside me is not because of me but because

where you lie is so very deep

you, no reason just that you simply come to make me lose all hope, and refuse


the space between doors, the darkness after rain, the train swallows whole screams within its loud stomach

the misery of a crazed mother looking for her run away child who follows a dream of

fish scaled by narrow alley passings

you, today, because the monsoonal fever, falling leaves let out a whimper

with a muted pain, i complicate the world and a passion for strangers, unrestrained and ridiculous

whatever beats, whatever dies, whatever exhales except

in the head unfamiliar voices as autumn rain drops a block of dead rotting brain, the tip of a knife gently pierces an eye, a bird’s melodious call, we should clench our breath to be drifting and forget the blood running

strange seasons, us with a dreadful hope looking for each other in a clamor, actually just to execute obligation’s order

my obligation is to listen closely to your language and make a meaninglessness

as you resolve to abandon this love

you, the bereft air of our old letters throbs up in me a shadowy swarm of ants in orbital swim, pummeling waves, repercussions of the early morning


of old stories, tossing and turning without end

the land where we lie is so tight

you, we should love each other like drowning boats damaged in tidal waves

i love the cracked scars on the gardeners’ hands i cherish you as points of memory’s warm light and the hot breath of fog

covering all injury

you, that day, from the event of an incredibly beautiful drop of broken dew, i tell you the story of a small bird blown about by a mean trick of wind

a moan slips from my mouth, happy accidents have become tests of endurance, what are we running away from, and why, or rather, how much more, which dream of reality do i wait for, the dream of an afternoon wind pursuing me, which fragrance

recalls that season of coincidental death, season of sweetly seductive death, i only want a resuscitating breath, what i want to say, i certainly do not, i try not to be motionless, i gaze, i watch, i drink, i sing, i cry, i’m sleepy, i’m sober, i’m drunk, i’m sinking, i love and care, i’m almost drowned, i’m certain

that i stand as a pillar at the abyss’ edge in fervent reverie of passing clouds, watch a slab of heavy rock crawl down the chasm, and in just a bit, i’ll cover myself in the sleep of high clouds

no hand whatsoever touching me

when we are desperate with love for the grass and kneel before her single stalks, how to keep from breaking the drops of dew

you, the blood beneath my limbs, beneath your limbs, shouting in panic, we need an anguish a period of bizarre arrogance

teeming to a rupture oddly transformed objects

together we lick clean the blood on the floor and erase this trace of injury

and fondly call it oblivion

you, we reserve for each other our whole lives, it’s just that our plans are out of sync

the crying sounds now asleep, the wind gradually erases itself, the crumbling narrative of fire and paper and the whimsical life of an old dictionary that consists of only crossed out words

you, today the bird is suddenly injured inside its peaceful roof

you, i will kindle no more fire

children must leave school

outside the streets have only miserable love songs

questions and the great effort to answer them, stories that have died, meanings that have dried up, depth is a visual illusion, and my body is only the temporary substitute for an urn holding withered ashes of the dead, and i am the withered ashes of the dead, now i lie unmoving in that urn

you, is it the wind that licks along on your body with its slowly abrading tongue, the salt of you slowly fading the into the wind’s brackish mouth

insatiable hunger stays, i sit chewing your eyes your lips your pain the feathers fallen from your inert corpse

it still hurts me to dream

whenever the moon is full, the blind dark, no one sees each other, dreamers of the dreaming universe detach from the system and wander in all directions, playing so as to locate themselves in loss, a defeated search for road, and the endless flurrying of highway bushes

now, i have decided to lie unmoving in the urn i will lie unmoving in the urn and the ash will not rise again

-- translated by Kaitlin Rees
-- image by Nguyễn Hoàng Giang