Indigo Lady

Her story is written on
every
line

life lined in black on
her
hands

hands full of secrets in
the
skin

skin of indigo stains set
and
dyed.

Indigo leaves leave their mark
powder to paste, lye, lime, rice
wine and the urine of young
boys.

Baths simmering blue black
in copper cauldrons, hands
dipping hemp twice a day
each day.

After the lunar month
every fibre is full
of colour.
Ears droop and drag
silver hoops looped
in double rings
letting her lobes loose
into the hills.

Her face is a folk song,
every line has been sung
in Sa Pa for centuries.

Her chorus breathes in
the blue cloth of night
and moon mist draped

over these high hills
where love hides.

~

With Hao Overlooking Bac Ha

Fans of rice paddies
shyly reveal
the heart of Viet Nam
through a hundred shades
of green.

Mists of finest silk
shyly reveal
the heart of Viet Nam
through a hundred sequins
of rain.

Hands so long apart
shyly reveal
the heart of Viet Nam
through a hundred brush strokes
of one touch.

~

Marble Mountains

Here you will find
your answers

How did he know
I had questions?

Here is
the universe
Thuy Son
water
Moc Son
wood
Hoa Son
fire
Kim So
metal
Tho Son
earth

Mountains
of marble and marvel

The Sanctuary

A blaze of yellow
monks
thankful
in prayer
for the yellow
orchids

The air holds
its breath

calmly

The Caves

Sacred with the scars
of bullets
a new holiness
punctured
into stone
Mandarins guard
the prayers
Hindu
Buddha
Cham

Huyen Khong Cave

Cathedral door
to choirs of shrines
incense heavy
with time

light falling
from the sky
from every heaven
spirits sing
silently

Hai Dai Tower

The ocean view
the breeze
‘I wave my hands
over an unlimited
distance
I don’t know who
will be
beside me.’

*

Poetry from other places – from Jenny Powell’s collection Viet Nam: a poem journey (HeadworX 2010)

Jenny Powell is a Dunedin poet and secondary school literacy coordinator. She has written five individual collections of poetry, Sweet Banana Wax Peppers, Hats, Four French Horns, Viet Nam: a poem journey and Ticket Home. She has worked with other poets to produce two collaborative collections, Double Jointed and Locating the Madonna. She is part of the CD and book New New Zealand Poets and can be found on the 12 Taonga of Aotearoa site. She has been a finalist in the UK 2008 and 2009 Aesthetica Creative Arts Competition, short listed for the 2009 UK Plough Poetry Prize, runner up in the 2010 UK Mslexia Poetry Competition and a finalist in the 2011 Wales Poetry Competition.

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