a reminiscence (for Lan)

sitting on the bed I watch her sleeping
her face has still the charm it had
when we first met in the midst of war
all those years  all those heartbeats ago
has still the grace and beauty that drew me
to her simple open unpretentiousness
just now I remember the day
we took a boat ride on the Sài Gòn River

somewhere there’s the photo I took that day
she stands in three-quarter profile
smiling    her white áo dài’s panels stirred by breezes
the silk trousers shimmer in the sunlight
she’s poised to step into the boat for our tour
along the river    the boatman holds the craft
near the bank with his push-pole oar

aloud she says  If I fall in the water  Anh
will you jump in after   to rescue me?

but  Em  I don’t know how to swim  I say

you’ll learn quickly  Anh – you must   to save me

she stirs in her sleep   she whimpers
or is it gentle laughter from that day
so many heartbeats ago  so far away

*    *   *

© Gregory V Driscoll  2014

Note: In Vietnamese, lovers, husbands and wives, use familial terms in addressing each other: Anh means older brother; Em means younger sister.

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