Refurbishing Uncle Ho

I have tried to imagine
Hanoi --
with lotus lapping
water around the
newly ancient
One Pillar Pagoda re-created
after the French took
their Indochina torch
and lit town on the way out --
wondering, is it like Saigon
only less so? The ancient guild
warren of streets
named paper votive objects,
parasol, hoop net, bamboo, lacquer
rice and worms
havenít kept up with the times
cellular phone, pirated video
or plump white tourist street
more properly would be
in Saigon
which is more properly
Ho Chi Minh City
where they arenít tied
to the old ways
any longer than they have to be.

Uncle Ho
asked for the burn
but fellow travelers
get more mileage
out of his perennial state
lying in Hanoi
making hiatus every so often
to Moscow
where they specialize in fancy death balls.
Ho is in good hands
for re-waxing
and re-wording,
so even we
canít remember
why we bombed that saint
in the first place.

Constance Lee Menefee
Copyright 2000