The letter I wrote you had smeared ink,
by Huu Thinh
But the bamboo walls are thin, and fog kept leaking through.
On this cold mountain, I cannot sleep at night.
By morning, a reed stalk can fade.
White snow on my thin blanket.
The stove glows red for lunch, but the mountain remains hazy.
Ink freezes inside my pen--
I hold it over the glowing coals and it melts into a letter.
Blocking the wind, a tree with purple roots trembles.
Corn seeds shrivel underground.
On days when my comrades are on assignment,
I miss them, but. . .there is an extra blanket.
The cold rooster crows lazily in a hoarse voice.
We beat on the cups, the bowls, to ease the strangeness.
The mountain hides hundreds of ores in its bosom.
I try, but can't find enough vegetables for a meal.
The rice often comes early, the letters late.
The radio is on all night to make the bunker seem less desolate.
So many years without women,
I mistake the sound of horse hooves for your footsteps.
Gathering clouds often invite me to dream;
knowing so, you keep the light glowing late.
Wishing I had some scent of soapberry
So rocks would soften, the mountains grow warm.
Meo Vac, 3/82