To a Skull

Chế Lan Viên

You belonged to someone!
In that dark theatre of bone,
do you still recall anything?
What dreams are showing?

Remember the killing fields?
Ten thousand heads cropped.
Or those nights your soul
leapt through the great fires?

On quiet afternoons do you
search for the trace elements?
Would you recognize your
soul if you bumped into it?

I must be losing my mind.
I just want to hold you until
your blood stains stain me
and infuse my sad little poems,

to bite you, tear you to bits,
swallow you, skull of my skull,
and enjoy whatever remains.
All these years blown apart.


translated from the Vietnamese by Hai-Dang Phan