A Poem by Bob Boldt
–Five hundred years ago, the poet Nguyen Binh Khiem called the land into being. He wrote: “Vietnam is being created!” *
You bring disorder to this land
and to the poetry of DNA,
disrupting its rhymes and bonds.
You take an eggbeater to the nest of life
to make your toxic omelet.
You sleep beneath the rich loam
in your lethal bed and wait
for some playing child or plow
to release your venomous molecules.
stops to rest her burden
in the heavy, afternoon air
on the road to Ho Chi Minh City
carrying her son—
a legless, armless trunk of a boy
in an improvised backpack—
The all-compassionate Buddha asks us to forgive;
he does not require us to forget.
I have seen the photographs
of your rich harvest of deformed children,
the agony-painted faces of parents
and those who bear the dubious label of “survivor.”
When I regard your makers
at Monsanto and Dow Chemical
I think they must be thankful there is no just God.
I try to imagine them
in their air-conditioned boardrooms
and their laboratories—
researching the chemistry of denial.
On the unlikely chance there is a just God,
I picture them in some sweet Beulah Land,
their eyes anticipating
Saint Peter’s long-promised Pearl Gates.
But as the mist clears, a sea of twisted bodies
and decomposing double-headed corpses
appears beneath the weakening clouds.
This is their vile produce
over which they must slither on their climb to Paradise.
Just as the Gates are within reach,
a stern saint slams them shut in their faces.
Their futile attempt at redemption repeated,
promptly at six forty-five AM,
everyday for eternity.
God may forgive them, but Hong Hanh can never forget.
*Viet Nam has been in existence for over a thousand years. One of their most important buildings is their building of knowledge and it celebrated it’s thousandth year anniversary this year.
**a name that means apricot blossom