from Selling Gold
By Nguyen Duy
Our soul -- a slab of pure gold.
We'll have to sell it piece by piece.
One piece for a son, one for a wife,
others for parents and friends.
The inner wealth hard to keep,
we're rich men, but our children eat dirt,
still, we walk, noses in the air, wife in hock,
parents drowned in storms and floods.
We dream and dance on without shame
don't give a damn for the leaky roof,
don't give a damn for a son's rags,
don't give a damn for a wife's withered hand.
We'd get drunk with the ocean and sky
just to get away from what's closest to us,
the rice pot empty, we turn our backs,
worry safely buried in a wife's hidden look.
~Translated by Kevin Bowen and Nguyen Ba Chung | Book