Summer/Fall 1999 • Vol. XXI No. 3/4 Poetry |

Grotto

Vinh Ha Long (Bay of the Landing Dragon), Tonkin Gulf             The rower  gaunt as his oar        lets us out  conscious               of not getting his 5,000 dong he stands  ankles in the cool water             holding onto the state-owned boat         for support     his skin the same color     as the mud             my eyes follow             the morning tides ebbing     from the dock             flash of residue         undulating   turquoise solid as the mountains    mold has blackened             the boat's belly        lapping at it    grotto of swimming bats    I do not swallow the darkness  the rocks under my feet             are piranhas' mouths if I miss a step

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