Kyoto Journal Digital Issue 79 Unfamiliar Home.jpg

Mekong River

BY TERESA MEI CHUC
Mekong River poetry Terea Mei Chuc Vietnam War Kyoto Journal
Today’s flowers let me inside
into their vase-shaped bodies

Today, I swim this river
with its fish and turtles
and crocodiles
and I know the river
does not need a name

There are no memories
of dead bodies floating
bloated, lonely
or of massacres

Today, I do not feel
the blood of the dead
seep through my skin’s pores

as I swim this sacred
water of my childhood
my hair wet

The sun sparkles
around lush green
rainforests and jungles
unkilled by defoliants

stretching out their
seventy-million-year-old
arms as they yawn

a doug langur monkey
peers out from behind leaves
its orange hair another sun

Today is bright
and hot and tropical

the palm leaves sway
and people in their boats
with baskets of fruits
and vegetables
and talk float like a leaf
along with the current

A woman sits
at the end of a boat
full of freshly cut bananas
her knees to her chest
wooden paddle in
her hands
she steers and stirs
the river

 

 

Teresa Mei Chuc was born in Saigon, Vietnam and immigrated to the U.S. under political asylum with her mother and brother shortly after the Vietnam War while her father remained in a Vietcong “reeducation” camp for nine years. Her poetry appears in journals such as EarthSpeak Magazine, Hypothetical Review, The Prose-Poem Project, The National Poetry Review, Rattle and Verse Daily. Teresa’s poetry appears in or are forthcoming in anthologies such as New Poets of the American West (Many Voices Press, 2010), With Our Eyes Open: Poems of the New American Century (West End Press, 2014), and Mo’ Joe (Beatlick Press, 2014). Teresa has a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing (poetry) from Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont and teaches literature and writing at a public school in Los Angeles. Red Thread is her first full-length collection of poetry.

Photograph by John Einarsen

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