Sixtyish now, Ling Quang’s hard look
lifts from the gravel where we’ve stopped,
the Honda’s kickstand staked
to the mountain road’s bit of shoulder,
our helmets left
like laid eggs on the leather seat.
He points at the place
near the silk factory, where the craters
are almost grown over, green
with new vegetation
and loose stands of pine.
On the bike, we lean through curves,
tires eating the steep grade back to town.
Slashes of sun break
through a storm cloud that squats
farther east. His view flashes, too fast to feel,
across his knock-off Ray-Bans,
past the bridge again,
where a man stands fishing,
his nylon net like a smudge of mist
that skims his catch from the creek,
their fins struggling in the killing air.
—Da Lat, Vietnam
This appeared in the January/February 2012 issue.