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Pham Tien Duat

A Bridge

Father, you sent me a photo of a bridge
you built across the deep river. You say
the train will soon pass by. Show your mother
this picture. Let her keep it a good long time.

I love bridges. The spider with his web builds a small bridge
across the sweet mouth of the water jar. The magpie flies
and builds a bridge of wind across the riverbank.
The ant, crossing the canal, makes a bridge of bamboo leaves.

I love a rainbow when the wind rises and the rainbow
becomes a bridge of blue and red streaks in the sky.
Under the rainbow bridge, a factory has just been built,
its smoke whiter than clouds before rain.

I love a bamboo bridge over the canal where I stand
waiting for my mother at the rice harvest. I love to watch
the women carry rice on their hardened shoulders,
turning the waters yellow under the bridge.

I love the suspension bridge near my grandmother's house.
The bridge is a hammock slung over the river, rocking people
side to side. Under the bridge, boats carry lime and gravel,
sails push against the current, small thin barks glide down.

But what I love most, even more than the bridge by the pond
where mother bends to soak beans is the bridge in this photo.
My mother says "it's Ham Rong Bridge across Ma River,"
But I call it my father's bridge.