This is a poem I wrote thirteen years ago around this time of year. The details were different, but that was a difficult year for some people, too. The weather that season also vacillated between monsoon-like and scorching. Accompanying my reading are sounds from a night at Ken’s Sushi and a backwards version of Dr. Zhivago’s “Lara’s Theme” as played by a music box owned by my mother.
Photo: “Dancing During the Flood” by C. Cha Ramone
In My Lai, Vietnam, grandchildren of Ha Thi Quy, a survivor of the 1968 My Lai Massacre, hunt for snails at the ditch where civilians were rounded up and killed.
At times I’m certain that all true innocence has died with one last wince and a single tear as we stood around with our heads down and our hands together in helpless repose, watching the final breath that I can trace back to no less than a half dozen killing moments.
Then the sky breaks out in pink, the firefly shift begins and I remember the little boy who was so happy to wave at me from the backseat of a jeep at a traffic light. His cheeks must have hurt from grinning so much.
I remember the little girl from a village on the other side of the world who only wanted to throw a ball, back and forth, back and forth. We didn’t speak; we just played catch and that was our moment that nobody could steal.
I can hear my name shouted over and over by a friend’s three year old daughter who was very excited about the restaurant fish, especially the orange one.
And I think about the young but scarred heart who thanked me for a gift of blank pages, telling me how she had already written a story in them. I hope those pages end up covered with mostly firefly sunset words, leaving almost no space for the dark room, locked door passages.
Here’s hoping the dark room, locked door passages remain short and seldom for us all.
A friend suggested that I actually mail the open letter to the Dah Sing Noodle Company from my No Fortunate Son post. I thought that sounded like a good idea, so I did.
It’ll be interesting to see if I hear back and, if I do, in what manner. Even if I don’t, all I’ve lost in the effort is the price of postage, which ended up being very inexpensive since the center of Eastern wisdom is apparently Stone Mountain, Georgia.
I’ll give my letter some time to circulate through all the appropriate misplaced fortune channels at the Dah Sing Noodle company. Then I’ll post an update as to how the cookie crumbled.