by Nguyễn Quyén
My future lives come to me in dreams
Come silently with torn soles.
I am like a skilled shoemaker
Greeting the wandering breath of these feet.
These dreams–my other selves
Sprawl out to sleep like a litter of puppies,
Pinches of ashy fur standing up in tufts
Their young hair like a hen’s fluffed feathers
They lie on their stomachs, pressing against my shadow.
Pairs of shoes from yesterday will come tomorrow
Am I their native land, or a land foreign to them?
Their house, or an inn?
Which road guided them to me?
Tonight I decide to open myself to these dreams,
As anxious for their arrival as a child yearning for milk.
Perhaps fireflies will draw them in a different direction
And perhaps the shoes are no longer ripped.
I feel as empty as a new-born creature.
I spread out like a homeless evening
To meet these footprints turning towards me.
Translated by Ben Tran