“This was once a country of artisans
and poets.” — US Army Colonel
watching detainees unload from a
truck at Cu Chi Base Camp.
Go to the Cau Dai Temple .
Implore Jesus and Victor Hugo,
the All-Seeing Eye.
Tell them of the girl Ru,
squatting in the fishmarket.
I saw her there today,
hair hacked short,
mouth sunken and limp,
dust from the road
turning her gray in the sun.
Her family hides in the jungle.
She has sold her gold teeth,
her bracelets and chains.
They lead her through the base camps
from one bunker to another,
her nose flowing muddy like the Mekong .
Now that her lover is beheaded
she gives them boom boom
for opium and five dollar bill.
Tell them Ru was our hootch maid.
She brought us fresh flounder once.
She swept the floorboards clean.