Poetry / September 2014 (Issue 25)

Deep Doorway

by Mai Van Phan, translated from the Vietnamese by Lê Đình Nhất-Lang

A narrow stream of light on that paved road is an infinitely deep doorway leading to our past lives. In a previous life you and I were a pair of water snakes slithering through grass into a lake, swimming together side by side. The tides that swept the foothills, left their mark through a thousand years. Two raging dinosaurs in a hot desert. A pair of eagles mating while free-falling in the air. Two braided trees amidst a storm. Thunder and lightning struck and collapsed a summit and left a sunset burn...Here comes the chariot of autumn. The grinding sounds of chain wheels on windy tree tops. Torrent of tiers of leaves falling.

My chest jolts as if trying to withhold an explosive shell, a drop of water, a flower bud on that paved road alight.

The horizon is broken by razor-sharp waves. Dawn billows where boundaries are smeared. Your thousand eyes turn around in cubist space. Palpitating sentiments are floating in dew. Don’t drift near clouds drenched in gasoline. Your ten fiery fingers hidden.

The wind’s aromatic tongues slip into my ears. Draping the wilderness with dreams of grass. My rapturous flesh already bears your footsteps, making your nails on earth even more resounding. Each of my joints ache to modulate its own woodwind voice, while I feel your lips blowing over my head.

Someone is grass cutting in the temple garden. A sharp blade cuts close to the grass stubs. Souls lost in the grass, stretch out their arms. Piled up grass will be served as cattle food. Or dried. Any souls not allowed to fly are held by a circle of hard-heartedness. The pain of slaughtering lingers in the strong smell of grass milk.
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