The President’s Daily Brief, 17 May 1967 (Sanitized Copy Approved for Release)
For Nhất Chi Mai
Chùa Từ Nghiêm, Chợ Lớn, Sài Gòn
16 May 1967
Beneath the shroud of morning, two mothers watch
their daughter die. One keeps her eyes closed,
the other, her hands clutching prayer,
a kaleidoscope pool collected at their naked feet
as a lotus ruptures upon the gasoline garden.
A hundred kilometres to the north, another body is bursting.
Here, spring’s breath evaporates into azure sky,
early hours condensing onto what she left behind:
a poem, a letter, a name fifty thousand mouths carry
because a telegram will not. A torch exhausted,
steeped deep in petrol, waiting
for another match to strike.
Do Nguyen Mai is a Vietnamese American poet and politics researcher from Santa Clarita, California. She is a proud alum of College of the Canyons and Washington College, and she is currently pursuing her doctoral degree at the University of California, Riverside. Her debut poetry collection, Ghosts Still Walking, is available from Platypus Press. Find her on Twitter @DoNguyenMai.