I was born in Sa Đéc, a French colonial town in the Mekong Delta of southern Việt Nam. This was where I learned to walk and talk, where I climbed trees and fell out of trees, where I was bitten by leeches and fire ants, where I taught myself to ride a bicycle, drawing concentric circles in the dirt around a centipede-infested tree trunk.
Delta rain came down suddenly and in warm sheets; the soil steamed, released a fertile mud odor that penetrated all senses. On humid nights, fireflies lit up the dark countryside and a symphony of frogs and crickets provided the soundtrack for my troubled sleep.
On the morning of my ninth birthday, I carried a child-size, cerise suitcase and left on my journey to America. On the walk to the bus station, a stray dog bit my behind… a piece of me stayed wedged between its teeth as it trotted off and disappeared into the thickets.
My poetic instincts are rooted in the malleable redness of Sa Đéc clay and in the vibrations of a scarred land that is both intimately familiar and foreign to me. It is the poetry of the body and of the gut.
“I can give you my loneliness, my darkness, the hunger of my heart, I am trying to bribe you with uncertainty, with danger, with defeat.”
― Jorge Luis Borges
by Samantha Lê
With cornflakes, carnival songs
and dancing lights inside
my roller coaster head,
I kiss you gently on popcorn fingers
and cotton candy breath.
Sweet smelling promises
dancing from your lips.
Heaven is but one simple skip
and hop from here. Your eyes still
reflect the lights of the sixty-seven
torches of our shared years.
My heart jumps from fingertips
to twitching toes as your smile
kisses my wrinkled nose.
After six decades of Ferris wheels,
corndog dinners and singing clowns,
you’re still my one only princess bride
on this cornflake carnival ride.
Listen to “Carnival Ride” mp3:
“Carnival Ride” was first recorded for My Solitude. ©2003 by Samantha Lê. For permission requests, please use the contact form.