Nguyen My
The Red Farewell

It was burning, red farewell,
Bright as rose-tinted swallow.
Noon about to pass into winter.
In sudden autumn sun
I saw a young woman in red
Saying farewell to her husband
In the sun-lit park.
Her husband was about to leave.
Her dress shimmered like glowing coals,
Burning at their farewell.
The green park and her wide conical hat
Couldn’t hide her burning love,
Couldn’t hide the tears in her eyes;
Hot and glistening,
They fell into the dawn
That opened between their lips.
And the rising sun came over her face
Bright as a ruby.
The green ficus tree invited them to sit
In its shade, to talk of their future.

Tomorrow will be the days of togetherness.
Its light illuminates their noble souls!
Her husband already gone,
The sunlight still glints in the eyes of mangrove leaves.

The park is so flooded with light
Every petal of the red flower still trembles.
The wind confided in me its whispers:
“When their country asks,
They know they must live apart…”
But I know that red color.

That redness in the flaming red
Is like the fire red of the banana blossom,
Like the redness of flames from the kitchen
Of a distant village on cold, windy nights…
And that redness will follow
As if there had been no farewell.

Translated from the Vietnamese by Nguyen Ba Chung, Nyugen Quang Thieu, and Kevin Bowen