Flowers of Vietnam.
They bloom in the mountains and by the sea,
in tiny villages and cities.
Delicate, scented, their skin like orchid petals,
hair blacker than a moonless night.
Deep brown almond eyes tell you nothing,
as you stare into them through the faded
light of a dingy bar.
Pressing her against the flimsy wall next to the
well-worn entrance to her room, all you can see
is your lust reflected in them.
Do you want to stare into eyes that have gazed
dispassionately into those of a thousand other men?
You’ll never look into the eyes of the woman planting rice
in the paddy. Her slender body will only yield to the rhythm
of her work, as she picks and plants in the muddy waters.
The water is poisoned.
The land, a battleground for centuries is degraded,
vibrating with the tread of foreign, booted feet
and clank of metal tracks. The thump of artillery
has taken over from the harmony of nature.
Life goes on.
Pausing in her work she raises her head
lifting the brim of her straw hat.
The men catch a glimpse of her face as they pass,
blank, unreadable. She knows their thoughts,
aware of what they want to do to her.
Lowering her head she smiles.
The sun will set over the far mountains soon
and she well knows where her rifle lays in the weeds.
Laurie Smith© 2013
Disclaimer for the photo. I took this picture in Vung Tau, the woman walked past and I was overawed by her beauty. She looked neither left or right and I felt like an invisible observer. I am using it here only to illustrate the poem, who was she, what did she do? I don’t know , only that she is/was a fine photographic subject.