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Visit to a Vietnamese Jail, 1953

by Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis

Thầy bị bắt về chánh trị. Đi với mợ thăm thầy ở trong tù.

Dad goes to jail for political reasons. Go with Mom to visit Dad in jail.

Her father is imprisoned
for sympathizing
with the Communists.

When she visits him
she leans against the bars of his prison
her back to him
while he braids her hair.
Even her mother
is not so gentle.

It was a Frenchman who informed on him,
a long-smoldering rival,
a former friend.

And though her father wouldn’t wish it
to be this way,
on his behalf
the Communists visit the Frenchman’s home,
slip through his windows,
vanish with his children.

“No crying,” her father says.
Years later two of her brothers
will be imprisoned
and another will disappear.
Perhaps he sees this future
and tempers her to face it.


Lawrence-Minh Bùi Davis is a Vietnamese-American writer from the Washington, D.C., area.  His fiction has appeared in Fiction International and was nominated for a 2005 Pushcart Prize. (6/2005)

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