A poem in Vietnamese by Phan Nhiên Hạo Translator: Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm
Fish in a well
When we were young, my younger cousin
would catch perch, fry them till their skin were nice and crisp
the fish spared were dropped into a well,
the water was muddy and not very deep,
he said, “These are the lucky ones.”
But day in and day out
they’re pushed around
shoved down by an iron bucket,
I know this is hell on earth for those
who had survived.
It was a time when my uncle was gasping for air in a re-education camp.
Cá trong giếng
Khi còn nhỏ em họ tôi
câu cá rô, chiên giòn
còn vài con thả giếng,
nước đục và không sâu,
nó nói, “Đây là những con cá may mắn.”
Nhưng mỗi ngày
hàng chục lần gàu sắt
tôi biết đây là địa ngục trần gian
của những kẻ sống sót.
Thời gian đó chú tôi đang ngáp ngáp trong trại cải tạo.
Phan Nhiên Hạo, the poet and translator born in 1967 in Kontum, Vietnam, currently works and lives in Illinois, the United States of America.
Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm, the blogger, poet, and translator, was born in 1971 in Phu Nhuan, Saigon, Vietnam. The pharmacist currently lives and works in Western Sydney, Australia.