The child rides on the backseat of the family’s bicycle and takes stock of Vietnam’s ravaged countryside after the revolution—its people and animals, its landscape and violent history. “The Way to Cái Răng Floating Market” captures the complicated adult world through the eyes of a child—the humming poverty and hunger, the trembling of the land. Geography is destiny, and this fact becomes the child’s identity. She sees her future, and it is the product of a past that she did not help to create.
A stuck sensation—the way fish
bones dig at the throat—
the old woman sings water-buffalo-
herding songs and breaks
the topsoil with a hoe: a rusty tin turns
upside down, a clump
of clay drops to the ground. […]
“The Way to Cái Răng Floating Market” is published in Issue No. 68 of Bayou Magazine, Winter 2018, pp. 86-87. Founded in 2002, Bayou Magazine is a biannual, national literary magazine published by The University of New Orleans. Writing that first appeared in this journal has been short-listed for the Pushcart Prize and named in the notable essays list in Best American Essays.