What I Can't Tell You

June 6, 2008
By Julie Tran, Everett, MA

I never got to shout “Bà ngôi!”
Like other kids.

You existed half-way around the world
Where I could never reach you
By myself.
Too far.

But I didn’t really care then.
I was too young.

I remember Mẹ sitting in front of the TV. at 142,
Watching a video of a very gloomy parade,
Her eyes red and teary.
She never cries.
I never asked why.

I remember visiting a dusty grave,
Bowing my sweaty head
And bending my nine year old body in the hundred degree heat
Three times at a gray, chipped, worn-out, ovalish stone,
Not realizing that it was you
I was standing on.

I’ve heard stories about you,
Legends that fascinated me,
Of how butterflies fluttered around you,
As if you were some sort of divine spirit.

Mẹ tells me I look like a younger her,
Do you still remember her face,
Even after all these years since the war?

I’ve never shed a single tear for you
Even when I realized you were gone forever.
I don’t know why,
Had I had the chance to meet you, would I?

I’m seventeen now,
Capable of understanding, learning, and feeling,
Wondering who you were.

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