“The Night-Blooming Cereus and I” by Lam Thi My Da

Lam Thi My Da


Why only one
Why not two
One moon, one bloom in the sky
One elusive cereus
Exiled to earth

The moon, the bereft sky
Oh cereus, I sit and watch
One silent bloom
One yearning self

Do you know me
Noble one?
Come, let’s lift our glasses
Our wine is the moon

What we have, what we don’t—
Just this wine intoxicates
Here, cherished flower
Are two full glasses

I am alone tonight
With one lone cereus, one bloom
We reflect each other’s faces
Their sorrow and joy

Why only one
Why not two
Feeling seeps up
Through your deep roots

For a moment I wish to be
A night-blooming cereus
To mate with solitude
And make two

—Translated by Martha Collins and Thuy Dinh

from Rattle #21, Summer 2004
Tribute to Vietnamese Poets

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