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Poetry

From behind a Closed Window

By Ngo Tu Lap
Translated from Vietnamese by Martha Collins & Ngo Tu Lap
Vietnamese poet Ngo Tu Lap pens a desperate cry for comfort and certainty.

Is there, out there, a sky
Sunny or windy or humid with autumn
A sky at dawn, or a sunset sky?

Are there, out there, human faces
Strange or familiar
Happy or hurting
Friendly faces, or faces like beasts’?

Is there, out there, a nothingness
With no future, and no past?
Was it I who drew the curtains across the window?

Is there, out there, dark earth
That buries all flesh that once was beauty
That buries all glances, all shut lips?

Is there only this place?
Is there only this late afternoon?
Is there only myself?

Translation of “Sau ô cửa đóng.” Copyright Ngo Tu Lap. Translation copyright 2007 by Martha Collins and Ngo Tu Lap. All rights reserved.

English

Is there, out there, a sky
Sunny or windy or humid with autumn
A sky at dawn, or a sunset sky?

Are there, out there, human faces
Strange or familiar
Happy or hurting
Friendly faces, or faces like beasts’?

Is there, out there, a nothingness
With no future, and no past?
Was it I who drew the curtains across the window?

Is there, out there, dark earth
That buries all flesh that once was beauty
That buries all glances, all shut lips?

Is there only this place?
Is there only this late afternoon?
Is there only myself?

Translation of “Sau ô cửa đóng.” Copyright Ngo Tu Lap. Translation copyright 2007 by Martha Collins and Ngo Tu Lap. All rights reserved.

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