I saw Vietnam
Packing my future into
Impossibly small luggage
Rolling down the streets I knew
In the vicious rain.
We added to the crowds
Of strangers going the same way:
We boarded the bus
Knowing time, fighting our
Way into the train, watching
Our watches, feeling cheated,
Chained to home.
This is our stop.
One minute left.
We shot off, bags and all,
Down stairs, to the ticket station.
Mine went through; hers didn't.
No time left.
She asked for help from a white man,
But I couldn't wait for risks.
"I'm gonna try to stop them!"
I said, running to our bus
Luggage and life with me
But not her.
The driver waited for stragglers
And there I came.
I showed him my things slowly,
Trying to delay, okay?
Show a smile, own my breath, yes.
Then she came, panting, and the world was okay.
We boarded the bus,
Found two adjacent seats,
Me inside towards the window.
The heavy movement made us all so sleepy.
Looking out, we were over the Oakland Bridge,
Rain pelting all the San Francisco Bay—
But that's not what I saw.
The calm blue green ocean looked
Familiar, like a memory from birth.
I felt older, the world felt younger.
I saw boats, people, my people before me
Floating on the water's ease.
I felt connected to that world I never knew,
I saw Vietnam.
On my way from Berkeley back to Los Angeles with a friend, somehow I felt the memory of my parents as they left Vietnam and immigrated to Hong Kong and then to America, where they had me. I just felt a little of the experience; they felt the whole.