THE WOMAN AND THE OLD HOUSE

Dedicated to house # 14

The finely carved chairs are covered with tattered velvet
For years the fireplace remains as cold as marble
White marble is clogged with black dirt

The woman dressed in her white tunic sits cross-legged
On the unique velvet covered chair still in good shape

The window cuts through the rain pouring like the nocturnal sky spreading amniotic fluid
Rusted bars loosen, trembling

The woman dressed in her white tunic sits cross-legged
On the unique chair still in good shape

Walls stained by nocturnal rain in years
Have their yellow colour covered with mildewy moss
It pours stark madly outside
Wanting to cast secret unexpressed sorrows into the old house

The woman dressed in her white tunic sits cross-legged
Distressingly sad and unswerving

Bacteria that cling on to each dust particle
On the watch for the proliferation of mildewy moss
Underneath the mirror-like sparkling plank-bed
Is the night of the last century
Underneath the mirror-like sparkling plank-bed
Cockroaches wag their antennae and sniff

The woman dressed in her white tunic sits cross-legged
Keeping the child she’s bearing in a steady and challenging posture
Cockroaches flock out from underneath the plank-bed
Starting to gnaw the chair still in good shape.

The woman dressed in her white tunic sits cross-legged
Draining dry her eyes to absorb the night
Slow and steady her body disintegrates
Draining dry her eyes soaking up thousands of rainfall
The old house is submerged in tears

Oe oe oe *
The old house shivers and wakes up
Cockroaches crawl helter-skelter on the tunic that falls down whitening the brick floor

The little girl in her white gown gently comes down from the unique velvet covered
chair still in good shape
With her very limpid round eyes
Dumbfounded she makes a tour
Touching with her hand the fireplace, the window, the walls and all other mildewy and mossy items
To find her hand chock-full with bacteria

Her deadly pale hand
Turns the doorknob and she walks out into the rainy and stormy night

The door filled with ancient calligraphic seal characters sinks in behind
At the very moment the night suddenly dies out
Rain-like drops of sunshine fall down unceasingly
Washing the dusty hand clean.

2001

(Translated by Vu Anh Tuan.)


* (Onomatopoea) wail of new-born infant