I have crushed my dreams and turned them into a life
I have held the broken pieces of your life in these frail hands
I have ground the shards to bluntness, ground them some more
In order to live, love and protect myself.
If ever I’m inattentive to you, broken
And reduced to pieces,
I know you will pick up the shards
Even though they cut your hands and give you pain.
Nguyễn Bảo Chân, from, ‘For My Father’, trans. by Lady Borton
During days not reserved for me
I went walking in the crowd,
During events not reserved for me
I went wandering in the streets.
When you are cold and exhausted, do you miss our street at night,
The steaming cups of green tea,
My recounting strange incidents
As the rain fell between us?
Ly Hoàng Ly, from, ‘Whispered Confidences For You’, trans. by Châu diễn, Nguyễn Quang Minh, and Rebekah Linh Collins
Whether beaten or hung and swung, be resolute,
Whether clamped or chained, say nothing false.
“Sacrifice yourself! Struggle to serve our case!”
The only retraction will be death’s release.
Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Untitled, trans. by Lady Borton
The wife draws the blanket, that one a chill,
A plague on the plight of sharing a husband.
A rare time, an odd chance, have it or not,
A couple of turns a month is meaningless.
I try for the sticky rice, but it’s always stale,
I work for hire: Hired, I receive no pay.
Surely had I known life would be like this,
I’d have stayed single and be done with it.
Hồ Xuân Hương, ‘Sharing A Husband’ trans. by Hữu Ngọc and Lady Borton