Academic journal article TriQuarterly

Fever Dream in Hanoi

Academic journal article TriQuarterly

Fever Dream in Hanoi

Article excerpt

The gold red and green carp surfaces in the lake where I struggle. Angry and impatient with me he shakes his head big as a baby's head towards the lake's center. I'd been half-swimming, half-treading water to try to make the shore where small lights blinked around the perimeter before tiny stands where women squatted in that particular Vietnamese way selling their few packs of cigarettes, their few bottles of warm beer.

Lovers linger too among banyan trees tangled. They nuzzle each other. They coo and laugh for these stolen minutes away from the crowded family houses. The lights and the confessional lovers all seem to call to me when I wake in the lake of the returned sword. The carp shakes his head towards the shrine on the island lit only with the light of the Buddha's eyes. I thought my life was calling from the lamp-lit lover's shore. I thought my death called too from the dark water, deeper. The carp shakes his head, old hooks and fishing line strung in the moon like a beard. He swishes the fan of his tail splashing green water across my face. I'm on my back, floating somehow towards the temple, the face of the carp changed, a human smile on his lips, the Hanoi moon slashed across his back so I see scales shine and the blood gills pulse. The lovers turn away from each other to the lake's black edge, and the old women blow out their small lanterns and turn too towards the lake as if in prayer. …

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