Crossing a Street in Hanoi
(for my 2015 term abroad students in Viet Nam)
Don’t wait for when it’s safe to cross.
There will never be such a time.
Walk slowly, deliberately, reflecting
on life’s great mysteries with each step,
mindful of your breath,
do not make sudden changes
in any direction.
You have to trust the motorcyclists.
Make eye contact with those nearing
you. Don’t be brave, don’t be scared,
don’t be stupid. Remember, each
breath is sacred, a drop in the cosmic
ocean. If this is too much, look for
a native nearby, walk beside her,
cross when she crosses, use her
as a shield. That’s it, easy
does it. You’re almost there.
Twenty more steps to go.
God help you.
Bunkong Tuon teaches writing and literature in the English Department at Union College, in Schenectady, New York. His recent publications include Nerve Cowboy, Más Tequila Review, Chiron Review, and Patterson Literary Review. Gruel, his first full-length collection, is recently published by NYQ Books: http://books.nyq.org/title/gruel