the second hand on the watch

A poem in Vietnamese by Lê Vĩnh Tài
Translator: Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm
Art: Trần Băng Khuê


It’s hard at work, constantly hard at work, but all people ever ask is what time is it, at the most to the minute, never the second?

But the responsibility of the second hand on a watch, it’s hard at work, gathering the minutes, the hours.

All day, all night, months, years and entire centuries…

November 2021



Nó cứ miệt mài, liên tục nhưng người ta chỉ hỏi mấy giờ, cùng lắm thì mấy phút, chứ có mấy ai hỏi mấy giây? 

Nhưng trách nhiệm của cả đời kim giây, là miệt mài, gom góp làm ra những phút, những giờ. 

Cả ngày, tháng, năm và cả thế kỷ…

Lê Vĩnh Tài, the poet and translator born in 1966 in Buon Ma Thuot, Daklak, Vietnam. The retired doctor is still a resident of the Western Highlands and a businessman in Buon Ma Thuot.

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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