Some day when I make my grand return,
I will take the long way home
on a rusty motorcycle,
passing by time-worn book stores, and French-wounded buildings
in the fresh autumn air, tinged with cheap cigarette buds and black cardamom.
I will breathe in the edge nibbled leaves that scatter the streets,
tune into the sizzling sounds of the market,
and confront my eroding mother tongue.
I will dream the dream of calico cats that bask in the twilight sun,
warm as the heat of noon, sweet as iced cà phê sữa.
And when the fire autumn fades, and the world is painted grey,
while the skies stretch further than the abandoned train tracks
that lead to the edge of time,
I will no longer fit the part of the past-girl, and the mirrors won’t reflect the same way.
The city will still hold me in the creases of her palms
tracing the branches of her Phoenix hands,
singing her nostalgic melodies alley by alley,
bent beneath the roof-tops
that trickle raindrops like tears from daybreak to crepuscule.
Where I come from will never change,
neither on paper nor in creed,
so tattooed on my heart are the memories of Hanoi.