Poem from Slate: Duy Doan

Image source: http://thisgurllovesjune.blogspot.com

This week’s poem from Slate is entitled History Lesson From Anh Hai and is written by Duy Doan. As always, I encourage you to check out this poem on the Slate website because they offer an audio version of the poem. And not only is it an audio version, but the poem is ready by the actual author, so you should definitely have a listen. Think of this as a bit of poetry to break up your busy morning.

Normally, I like to give a bit of background on the poet here, but I could not find anything on Duy Doan. If anyone has some info on him or knows of a website that might have his bio, feel free to pass that info along in the comments. For now, though, let’s carry on to Doan’s poem.

History Lesson From Anh Hai

I spoke to Great-Aunt tonight. She sounded like her sister.
It had been fifty years since they’d last spoken; mom said they cried over the phone.
Bà Nội used to always tell me đi tu đi con. But I know
The difference between tu and tù is one mark.

Fifty years since they’d last spoken; mom said they cried.
The night father braved the jungles, Bà Nội also cried.
The difference between tu and tù is one mark.
Once I heard about a monk who died setting himself on fire.

Bà Nội cried the night father braved the jungles.
They were bad times. A nun and monk were made to fornicate in the street.
Once I heard about a monk who set himself on fire.
Twenty years later the rodent problem—200 đồng per severed tail.

They were bad times. A nun and monk made to fornicate in the street.
Bà Nội used to always say đi tu đi con. But I know.
Twenty years later the rodent problem—200 đồng per severed tail.
I spoke to Great-Aunt tonight. She sounded like Bà Nội.

Glossary

Anh Hai: older brother, the oldest son 
Bà Nội: paternal grandmother
đi tu đi con: enter the priesthood; become a monk
tu: priesthood
tù: prison

I hope you enjoyed this week’s poem. Come back next week for more and, if you’re interested, skim the archives.

— Jet Fuel Blog Editor, Mary Egan

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