A poem in Vietnamese by Sấu Mã
Translator: Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm
Phographer: Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm



Swallowing half a smile 

Remembering that place you’re still protesting

Those silent meaningless messages

Everyone will eventually be alone

With no one to hustle

Just panting haemoglobin


Are rosy when we are rosy

Pink lilies radiating joy*

Quaking the depths waters


Clouds white sweeping

though wait 

There are those vows


Light rises

The birds sounding like running water

Head lean bubbling listening.


November 2018



Nuốt nửa tiếng cười
Nhớ nơi kia bạn đang chống chọi
Những nhắn thầm chơi vơi
Ai rồi cũng một mình
Chẳng có người chen lấn
Chỉ những hồng cầu là hổn hển
Cứ thắm khi mình đang thắm
Súng hồng bắn tia vui
Động sâu đáy nước
Mây trắng bay ngờm ngợp
Chưa đâu
Còn mấy nguyện thề
Nắng lên
Tiếng chim như nước
Nghiêng đầu róc rách lắng nghe.

*There is wordplay here: water lilies = hoa súng, súng = gun, bắn= shoot, bắn tia = radiating/propel. Too difficult for me to translate directly. Pink lilies symbolise purity of the hearth of youths, dreams, romance, marriage.

Sấu Mã, the poet is a retired professor living in Vietnam.

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.

By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

There's magic in translating a body of work from one language to another.

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