Register to Receive Plaza Blog Posts


Name
Email
AVAILABLE 24 HOURS A DAY AT 212-769-4400

“The Poem I Can’t Yet Name” by Nguyen Phan Que Mai, translated from the Vietnamese by Nguyen Phan Que Mai and Bruce Weigl.

For my grandmother

My hands lift high a bowl of rice, the seeds harvested
in the field where my grandmother was laid to rest.
Each rice seed tastes sweet as the sound of lullaby
from the grandmother I never knew.
I imagine her soft face as they laid her down into the earth,
her clothes battered, her skin stuck to her bones;
in the great hunger of 1945, my village
was hungry for graves to bury all the dead.
Nobody could find my grandmother’s grave,
so my father tasted bitter rice for sixty-five years.

After sixty-five years, my father and I stood
in front of my grandmother’s grave.
I heard my father call “Mum,” for the first time;
the rice field behind his back trembled.

—————————————-

My two feet cling to the mud.
I listen in the burning incense to my grandmother’s soul spread;
uniting deep with the earth, taking root in the field,
she quietly sings lullabies, calling rice plants to blossom.

Lifting the bowl of rice in my hands, I count every seed,
each one glistening with the sweat of my relatives,
their backs bent in the rice fields,
the fragrance of my grandmother’s lullaby alive on each one.

Categories: Plaza Poetry Picks

Name:
Phone:

Email:

 
Speak to a Funeral DirectorCommunity Outreach ProgramsGeneral Inquiy