Listening to Poetry in Vietnamese
by Travis Blair

A young woman reads
from a thin red book
in a language
I don’t understand.
Her words cluck and hop,
tickle my ears. I stare
at her and grin.

Her skirt rides up thighs
pale as moonlight.
She recites. Solemn obsidian
eyes peer straight into me.
I admire her shape pressed
against silk, watch how
her fingers brush the book.

My mind asks questions.
Is she Buddhist or Catholic?
Was her grandfather French?
Does she soak the sheets
with night sweat?
If she whispers in my ear,
will her breath amuse or singe me?

She finishes reading,
slides off the stool,
reads my mind.
When I applaud her performance,
she laughs, picks up her drink,
rolls cool blue ice
on her foreign tongue.

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