By Tô Thuỳ Yên, translation by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm (Link)
The empty café Heading there, perhaps for a date A date with whom I can’t remember Heading there, a desiccated heart the hollowness of a ball Grasping exhaustingly at earthly cravings This afternoon was harsh with sunlight… This afternoon was heavy with rain… The empty café, not a soul a being in sight The lamp is like a thousand years in waiting My fault, it can only be my fault Unable to recall the right time I’m sorry, to you my apology You came, and no one was here to meet you Life is such a mess There’s no point rushing Try anyway, hold it together So it’s worth the trip This afternoon was harsh with sunlight… This afternoon was heavy with rain… The café empty, the lamp is like A thousand years in waiting (November 2021)
Tô Thuỳ Yên (1938-2019) real name was Đinh Thành Tiên, born in Go Vap, Gia Dinh, Vietnam, an alumnus at Petrus Ký and Đại học Văn khoa Sài Gòn. He was a teacher and journalist in Saigon, a Major in the Vietnam Army prior to 1975. After 1975 served 13 years in re-education camps, in 1993, he moved with his family to the United States as a former political prisoner.
Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm, the poet and translator, born 1971 in Phu Nhuan, Saigon, Vietnam. The pharmacist currently lives and works in Western Sydney, Australia.