by Ỳ Nhi

One day
he brought her a small paper bag
and she emptied it into her palm –
buttons of green, violet and yellow

He gave her his soul
he gave her his life
but every day and hour, every minute and second
he wanted to give her everything he was able to in his life.

Time passed
she continued to send back
colored buttons that could not be sewn on ordinary clothes
a candle that was of no use under electric lights
a hair net too delicate to hold her hair
a bottle without the faintest taste of alcohol.

Translated by Bùi Kim Tuyến and Joseph Duemer

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