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Vietnam Across the Street

The reinforced steel
mountain rose imposingly
next to the front door
of the house across the street from Grandmas.
Every day at noon I sat in the rose-colored rocking chair
staring through the picture window screen
at the miniature lady with the
gigantic hat tending to her
front-yard garden
softly singing,
a Vietnamese lullaby
coaxing her flowers into bloom.

My child, sleep well,
So mom can carry water to wash the elephant’s back,
If anyone wants to see, go up the mountain
To see Mesdames Trưng, Triệu riding the elephant’s golden backs.

She sang in front of the mountain
carefully placed in the oversize window box
beneath the front window,
to the left of the front door.
Beneath the mountain there was a village
complete with plastic huts leaning into the power of the sun while oxen ferried faceless residents to the rice paddies.
When the Vietnamese family sold their house
to move down the street
she left her mountain village behind,
standing alone and proud
in the reflection of the empty window
impeccably taken care of,
inexplicably left behind.