by Truing Tran
(published in North Dakota Quarterly, Summer 1993)
My father’s body is a map,
a record of his journey.
He carries a bullet
lodged in his left thigh.
There is a hollow where it entered,
a protruding bump where it sleeps.
The doctors say it will never awaken.
It is the one souvenir he insists on keeping
from a past still holding us prisoners.
Mother has her own opinions.
Bô cūa con ‘diên—Your father is crazy.
As a child,
I wanted a scar just like my father’s
bold and appalling a mushroom explosion
that said, I too was at war.
Instead I settled for a grain of rice.
A scar so small, look closely there,
here between the eyes,
a bit to the right,
there on the bridge of my nose.
Father says I was too young to remember.
It happened while I was sleeping;
a leaking roof, the pounding of rain
drop after drop after drop.