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love poem to a vietnamese woman

love poem to a vietnamese woman

I want to write a love poem to a Vietnamese woman,
mot con gai qua dep from Saigon or Hue or Quy Nhon
from Boston, New York, Austin, Dallas or Cali

A girl who hums Paris by Night to herself
who has heard the songs enough to sing them but still doesn’t know what the lyrics mean
A girl who fiends for pho sometimes like I do, and knows that all a good bowl needs is some love…and a whole lot of MSG.
This poem is for that girl,
learning English from the TV and love from watching Chinese movies
The girl that always falls for the bad boy that she thinks has a heart of gold
the same guy she always cries tears for

I want to write a love poem to a woman who won’t ask me ‘what’s that smell?’ when she comes home and finds out I’ve been cooking with nuoc mam
A girl who when I say anh yeu em
will remember all the cheesy sweet A-Z-N wallpapers
and will think about her hands in mine like those cute ao dai wearing Tet dolls on the internet

A girl whose nights partying till the sun comes up don’t even put a dent into 3.5 gpa
A girl who plays volleyball and soccer and will kick my ass if I’m ever stupid enough to hurt her
A girl who loves to shop but somehow says she hates to spend money
yeah right, that’s why she has me pay for everything
A girl who tells me she can’t help me with this poem about the identity of Vietnamese girls
because she hasn’t figured it out for herself.

I want to write this poem to her, that girl whose aunties read her palm and tell her that she will marry a man-boy whose eyes look heavenward and whose heart bleeds ink,
who tell her that she will love, love with a passion that rivals the brilliance of all the stars in the sky
Love with a strength of a monsoon moving mountains
Love with a strength rivaled only by her ability
to last.

A girl who knows what it’s like to go through the first generation blues
claiming Vietnamese pride even as she tripwalks through a white world
too bleached for yellow-brown skin to ever blend in
stepping into America when she steps off her porch
and into Vietnam as soon as she can hear cai luong and smell the sweet scent of sau rieng in the air

I want to write a love poem to a girl whose beauty is as heartbreaking as the history of Vietnam
as mysterious as the moonlight on Song Cu Long
whose hair is a portrait of star-filled nights in a homeland that I’ve never seen.

I want to write this poem to her,

The girl that knows that her parents act like they hate her because they love her
because their hugs and kisses and words of praise have been swallowed by legs that stand too long
and by shoulders drooping from a long day sanding floors
Who loves her parents, no matter how much they frustrate and fret over her
Loves their haunted eyes and calloused hands and their overbearing ways

This Vietnamese American woman standing with the strength of oppressed people holding up her spine
Their history etched into the lines of her eyes
and their song carried in every word that passes through her lips.

I want to write this to her so she knows I’m out there
A man-boy who knows how tired she gets of days when she and the world just don’t seem to fit together
when it just doesn’t understand.
I want to show her that I will.

A girl, a woman with the last name Tran or Vo or Vu or Ngo or Nguyen or Le or Pham or anything else that finds itself at home in my mouth
because in the twisting talk of learning English,
I’m beginning to forget the language that I was born listening to
the language in which,

I love you.

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