Translated by Nguyen Tien Hoang
from the original version in Vietnamese, “Vô ngôn”
Finally they dried up. Her tears.
Under the lowered porch-cover, winter was reaching its end.
The garden wrens skipped their busy tiny steps on the old moss,
Digging for the insects of expectations.
Finally, she found her past,
Wrapped tightly in bundles of stinging nettles that Elise carried back
From the graveyards
Night after night.
She knitted her shirts, turning the feathers back into princes
She held tight her own lot of memories - stained, tarnished -
Weaving many a crown of thorns,
Then buried them
With the shroud which has the imprint
Of her face many years ago.
Against the cutting wintry breeze that she tasted on her lips bitter-sweet,
From the tomb
Single-mindedly, she carried herself onwards.
Her smiles charged with the gusty winds, bent and swayed, while the stinging nettles
having made up their mind
Be where the decomposed corpses were left.
Paying no attention to the blistered hands, the woman knitted
her own dawn.
From the graveyards.
[*]tầm ma: stinging nettles, found in semi-arid burial ground in vietnam; the name means literally ‘searching for ghosts, spirits’.
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