The heat veil descends the third week of July
and the market vendors feel its suffocation.
Next to the stall of spices, a woman holds a cleaver,
perched just an arm’s length from the spiked jackfruit shell.
She brings it down with the force
of one hacking through bones.
Squatting on sidewalk corners, the gossipmongers grind
betel chew against tea-yellowed teeth and stained gums
the color of blood.
They squawk at passersby to look at their merchandise.
Under the red flames of the phuong blossoms,
on a road where cyclos and Mercedes share the same lane,
the metalsmiths wrap their coils of worry
in tight strips around veined hands.
The dark years roll down passages of musk-air
and the way the fish tremble on hills of salt
reminds me of a blue-green expanse.
I want to ride it and tame it as my carrier
back to that old country.