By: KIM NGUYEN
“Not all that glitters is gold”
But whenever I dream of Viet Nam,
I see the sea that surrounds it and the glistening on its surface.
From what appears to be
Rays of lights’ reflection
And here, my logic plays deceptive because the glittering golden beams I see
Is really gold that’s being reflected.
Whatever treasures lay at the bottom, I may never get to discover…
But the gold I see glisten
Is that of the blood and bones of my sisters and brothers;
Those who were not so much blessed with the good fortunes met by my mother and father
Whom had gotten up and left in the same haphazard manner
Fleeing for freedom by leaving their motherland
In attempts to escape the aftermath
Of the war.
Which, contrary to ignorant beliefs,
Was not us against the Americans.
Viet Nam was a civil war,
Or more like a military conflict
Between the South and the North.
Fearing the expansion of the northern communists,
America sent soldiers down south
To help us win
…but then the U.S. left and so Sai Gon fell to Ho Chi Minh
On the 30th of April
Unity wasn’t quite the right word to describe the cusp of the divide between the
North and the South because our people were devoured by the hunger for this power
Leaving the country at that time was considered illegal.
But despite those consequences,
To stay there
So for countless nights upon nights, it was
Run to the boats before they see you.
Forget everything you were; you are now Vietnamese Boat People
Take along nothing with you except the amount of gold that you can hold in your anatomy
So you can sell it when you land
But don’t fret or fear if you end up empty handed
Just appreciate getting past the oceans because that alone was
Not a fate that a lot of us had the privilege of holding.
The feeble little fishing boats we were armed with often faced hardships
Whether we were fighting off
Or being blown to bits by harsh winds
Our headspaces hoodwinked by our hunger and exhaustion;
Though we know blood’s thicker than water, there’s not much difference when you’re starving…
And making it to land was still not yet victory;
Some places we landed would pack us back into our boats like sardines and
Push us back out to sea
Many times, we had to break our boats upon arrival
We no longer wanted to sink and had no energy left to swim
With an escape plan so shady, we knew our chances of survival would be slim
Still, we had that
Get free or die trying mentality
So we had to get free
But only half of us succeeded
(Although no specific amount of countless casualties can be accounted for since no one knows for sure how many had left)
But you can count on this:
Though we may have lost our land
And half our people,
Our flags will keep on
All over the world
Much like our children.
And it will be through them that our stories
And our spirits
Keep on living.