Reunification Express, 1994

Somewhere miles out
of Saigon
north even of Phan Rang
and Nha Trang
eating sticky white rice
spooned from red plastic
laundry tubs
you’d swear the riders
of the purple sage
were hiding in a box canyon
a kind of hot tumbleweed
dryness with prickly pears
pretending to be
overlapping green roof tiles,
sheltering some
deeper resemblance to the
cowboy warrior’s home range,
a dun-blue sky as big as the
ceiling
over the Badlands
on a persistent wind afternoon
broken by furrowed trees old
before their time,
stands of slender
silver-mottled rubber trees
slip by
warning even those
lost in train time
bound for the Hai Van Pass
that the time of heroes
is past
is past
is past.

Constance Lee Menefee
Copyright 2000