Long Phuoc revisited

 “Suffering is not increased by numbers: one body can contain all the suffering the world can feel.” —Graham Greene

This time

he goes down into the tunnels


as a multi-level parking station

recalling scenes only ever imagined

careful not to scrape head or limbs

on the red dirt walls

lower back straining, hunkered down to fit. 

They’re still crouched by the slit-windows

bayonets at the ready

no cigarette smoke to give it all away.

Napalm falling

like a kind of insanity

that doesn’t discriminate

welds into skin.

Changing film, he misses it

and someone else grabs the shot 

burned into memory

in grainy black and white.

Grass flourishes on Nui Dat Hill

former task-force base

—indistinguishable in recent photographs 

from any bit of landscape—

silently cropped by water buffalo

across a dry paddy

bordered with bamboo hedges.

A subjugated country, they cannot speak 

regret or even sorrow

the ploughed fields

seeded with forgiveness.

Rubber trees grow in groves around

the memorial cross 

milk bleeding into collection cups. 

Red earth clings to his shoes.

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