Pairs of Shoes
My future lives come to me in dreams
Come silently with torn soles.
I am like a skilled shoemaker
Greeting the wandering breath of these feet.
These dreams — my other selves
Sprawl out to sleep like a litter of puppies,
Pinches of ashy fur standing up in tufts
Their young hair like hens’ fluffed feathers
They lie on their stomachs, pressing against my shadow.
Pairs of shoes from yesterday will come tomorrow
Am I their native land, or a land foreign to them?
Their house, or an inn?
Which road guided them to me?
Tonight I decide to open myself to these dreams,
As anxious for their arrival as a child yearning for milk.
Perhaps fireflies will draw them in a different direction
And perhaps the shoes are no longer ripped.
I feel empty as a newborn animal.
I spread out like a homeless evening
To meet these footprints turning toward me.
Translated from the Vietnamese by Ben Tran