We promise one another /
poems from an Asian war
G I R L O F T H E S O U T H
a poem by
T ế H a n h *
I come to visit the hospital ,
Looking for news of home .
When I meet you, I guess
" A southern girl "
In your young face
Something seems old,
When I was regrouped
You were barely a third grader.
Your eyes glisten , damp ,
Half - closed against the sun ,
Or sometimes turning dark
As before a leaden cloud .
The hospital tells me
You are a militia commander .
With your own hands you have killed
A cruel outspot chief .
When they say you' re very ill ,
With malaria diarrhea ,
And worst , a nervous disease
Screaming out at night in terror .
We talk together ,
Waking memories of home
The heights of Thạch Bích peak ,
The swirling water of the Trà rivers . **
When I ask , you just laugh ,
You can't remember how many battles .
You remember Ba Gia best
And early spring of sixty-eight .
Pak Chung Hi 's fighting bands ***
Have received our punishment .
Sơn Mỹ , Ba Lang An .
We can never forgive the American criminals .
TRẦN TẾ HANH
* Tế Hanh ( b. 1921 in Quảng Ngãi Province , d . 2009 )
Real name : Trần Phố ( or Trần Tế Hanh ).
* * In Quảng Ngãi Province
** * Pak Chung Hi is the President of Korea ( South ) .
Under the allied force , Korean soldiers are primarily
stationed in central Việt Nam .
( Don Luce's notes )