A Reed Boat
The boat's tarred and shellacked to a water-repellent finish, just sway-
dancing with the current's ebb, light as a woman in love. It pushes off
again, cutting through lotus blossoms, sediment, guilt, unforgivable dark-
ness. Anything with half a root or heart could grow in this lagoon.

There's a pull against what's hidden from day, all that hurts. At dawn the
gatherer's shadow backstrokes across water, an instrument tuned for gods
and monsters in the murky kingdom below. Blossoms lean into his fast
hands, as if snapping themselves in half, giving in to some law.

Slow, rhetorical light cuts between night and day, like nude bathers em-
bracing. The boat nudges deeper, with the ease of silverfish. I know by his
fluid movements, there isn't the shadow of a bomber on the water any-
more, gliding like a dream of death. Mystery grows out of the decay of
dead things--each blossom a kiss from the unknown.

When I stand on the steps of Hanoi's West Lake Guest House, feeling that
I am watched as I gaze at the boatman, it's hard to act like we're the only
two left in the world. He balances on his boat of Ra, turning left and right,
reaching through and beyond, as if the day is a woman he can pull into his