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A Piece of Sky Without Bombs by Lam Thi My Da

Your friends said that you, a roadbuilder,
had such love for our country, you rushed
down the trail that night, waving your torch
to save the convoy, calling the bombs down on yourself.

We passed by the spot where you died,
tried to picture the young girl you once had been.
We pitched stones up on the barren grave,
adding our love to a rising pile of stone.

I gaze into the center of the crater
where you died and saw the sky in the pool
of rain water. Our country is so kind:
water from the sky washes the pain away.

Now you rest deep in the ground,
quiet as the sky that rests in the crater.
At night your soul pours down,
bright as the stars.

I wonder, could it be your soft skin
changed into columns of white clouds?
Could it be that when we passed that day,
it was not the sun but your heart breaking through?

This jungle trail now bears your name;
the skies reach down to your death and touch it;
and we, who never saw your face,
each wear a trace of you, bright on our cheek.

Translated by Ngo Vinh Hai and Kevin Bowen:
from Life and Death on the Ho Chi Minh Trail