By Lam Thi My Da
Translated by Martha Collins and Thuy Dinh
White circles of conical hats have come out
Like the quiet skies of our childhood
Like the wings of storks spread in the night
White circles evoking the open sky
The golds of rice and cluster-bombs blend together
Even delayed-fuse bombs bring no fear
Our spirits have known many years of war
Come, sisters, let us gather the harvest
Each of us wears her own small moon
Glittering on a carpet of gold rice
We are the harvesters of my village
Twelve white hats bright in the long night
We are not frightened by bullets and bombs in the air
Only by dew wetting our lime-scented hair
Another from Poet's Choice in this Sunday's Washington Post Book World. Robert Pinsky notes that the poem was originally written in the European sonnet form, as the book places the transliterated Vietnamese original on the page facing the translation.
Spent the morning trying to catch up on mail, then went this afternoon with the whole family to take older son to meet with his science group. We all ended up staying, though I was going to take younger son to look at digital cameras, because the other boy's family was all there and in between helping them practice their science fair presentation, we were chatting -- it turns out that the boy's mother, whom I knew was an Israeli journalist, is in fact one of the top Israeli journalists in the US and has met just about everyone who's everyone in politics, while the father, a lawyer, is former military and they both had amazing stories of living overseas and travel and such. They also have a big messy backyard where younger son went and ran around and jumped in the leaves for awhile when the others were working. Their older daughter is at an art magnet program and is a bead jewelry designer who does beautiful work; I bought a pair of earrings from her, tiger-eye and copper wire with sterling studs (I can't wear any metal other than sterling, gold or very high quality hypoallergenic stainless through my ears without getting allergic reactions).
When eventually we left, I got apaulled to let me drive through the neighborhood where I lived until I was six years old, past my first elementary school and the house. It's funny, I don't remember the inside of the house at all, but the outside looked exactly as I remembered it (the paint colors haven't changed though I'm sure it's been repainted), and the cul de sac looked very much as I recall it, though smaller. So did the front of the elementary school which I literally have not seen in 30 years! The area has mature trees now, which it did not when we lived there, and is very pretty.
Afterwards we kept our promise to younger son to look at digital cameras, and ended up buying one of the inexpensive HP cameras which had gotten decent reviews for the price and came with a photo printer and all sorts of other extras if purchased this weekend. Of course he spent all night playing with it -- it appears that it is a much bigger battery hog than my Nikons, though it may just be that the new rechargables don't hold as much juice as the ones in my camera. Or they might need to be discharged and recharged a few more times.
Since we were already out, we went to a pizza buffet for dinner where I ate far too much pizza and pasta and bread and things that I really, really did not need (plus Girl Scout cookies after that because how can we not support the Girl Scouts by buying Thin Mints?!) But the kids were in their element; there are like ten kinds of pizza, two kinds of pasta, a salad bar and three desserts at this place, and next to Chinese buffet, what could be better? Later we watched Their Eyes Were Watching God, which was not as good as the book but was quite enjoyable, partly because Halle Berry is wonderful in almost everything (no I did not see Catwoman) and partly because it's reasonably empowering, even though the dialect and regionalisms of the novel have been homogenized for a TV audience. I don't know that I'd recommend that people run out and see it in a movie theater but as television movies go, it's beautifully filmed, well-acted and quite entertaining. I'd recommend the book to anyone who hasn't read it much more strongly, though.
Chili, the pet chinchilla of my son's science group partner, held by the older sister. I had forgotten what unbelievably soft fur they have. This one is extremely friendly, as you can see, and totally adorable.