Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

My Mother and You Are One

My Mother and You Are One

By Vo Que

"If our father died, we would still have our uncle.
If our mother died, our aunt would suckle us."
The words of my ancestors, which I heard
from childhood grow with me over time.
My mother was no longer there.
Auntie, you gave me life,
you gave me hope,
you opened each page of life for me.

Like my mother,
you are gentle,
tender and graceful.
Your hair was once youthful and spry
You embraced hardships
to support each step that I took.

On silent nights,
your solitary lamp filled the gloom
so sleep could envelope me.
You whispered lullabies
so I could dream sweetly.

When my mother died,
I thought my spring would quickly end,
but with you, Auntie
the sun still rises,
the moon lights up the blue nights,
the four seasons meander along,
the seven-colored rainbows still come,
and my heart is not confined.

I imagine
how you
passed the stream of sacred milk
from my mother to me,
every fragrant drop
a crystal of your mothering.

My mother and you are one.
You and my mother are one.
Auntie, let me whisper your name:

Translated by Thieu Khanh, Nguyen Phan Que Mai, and Kwame Dawes


Vo Que

Vo Que was born in 1948 in Hue. His main literary publications include: Songs of Horses (a joint poetry collection, 1969), Nocturnal Flowers (poems, 1969); Sister Sáu (short stories, 1971), A Drop of Our Blood, a Sea of Peace (a play in verse, 1971); New Source (a joint poetry collection, 1971); the Rice Plants ( 1975); Praising (poems, 1993); All the Love for the Baby (poems, 1993); Songs of Friendships (the lyrics of Hue, 2000); On the Demonstrating Days (poems, 2001); Street Fire (a memoir, 2003); Flowers and Hue's Taste and Style (Poems, 2010); Life Here and There (Poems, 2011), Côn Đảo (poems by Vo Que and sketches by Đang Mau Triet, 2011). He has been honored with many awards including the Special Prize from the Union of Arts and Literature Associations of Vietnam (2002), an Ancient Capital's Literature and Arts Award (1994), as well as an Award from the Vietnam Folklore Association (1997).   

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