I had borrowed

a tiny cell from my father,

I had borrowed

a tiny cell from my mother,

To form my body.

My mother had

a little room in her care.

She let me dwell there, 

real comfortably, rent free,

Plus full security.

I caused her problems, 

in the nine months of my contract.

But she never minded,

And she seemed  so happy, 

when I kicked and punched.

I came to the world, 

when my contract run out.

Although the self looked after the “I”,

Still I had to depend on her ,

Until I grew into full maturity ,

Far from crime, drugs and alcohol,

Away from all trouble as she asked me to,

My body is perfect.

Took care of myself, 

because “I” was not mine.

It had been borrowed,

it belonged to my folk,

I must take good care.

More than half a century later:

“Life is not meant to be easy”

in my  adulthood,

It kicked me “left right and centre”.

I felt suicidal sometimes.

When my own branches

bounced back, my own eyes hurt

to the point I thought,

To take my own life,

Life had become real blue.

But the “I” was not mine

The “I” had been borrowed

And the owners had passed away,

I had not returned the “I” yet…

How Dared I think of death!

Fire may be red,

life may be dark blue

But love is green and forgiving,

I took that feeling into my heart,

My heart is listening.


Dã-Thảo Quế Trần

Spring 1998.


She gets out of the house

Before the sun rises,

And comes back home

After the sun goes down

She has two hands,

Soft and tender,

Loving and caring

Working very hard.

Both her hands are lacerated

By the sharp edge of papers,

The hands that bring food to the table

For her offspring.

The hands that kneads three blocks of clay,

Into the right shape,

The right shape of mind

For the next generation.


Dã-Thảo Quế Trần

Spring 1998


     She had the feeling of a fire inside her body. Every thing seemed “not right”. She had just accompanied a friend to the airport for his overseas trip that afternoon. Very  clearly she remembered going through the checking of the luggage, the boarding pass, then the plane taking off for Hong Kong. She had stayed there until there was no sight of the aircraft.

     She’d returned home on her own. The fire was getting worse. She knew depression had taken advantage of her again. A suicidal feeling was taking hold of her, her heart beating so fast and so loud that she scared the seagulls away. She managed to sit on a bench in the park for a while. She then noticed someone lying on the grass, peacefully asleep. There was no romance, no kisses. He was absolutely ignorant of the seagulls dancing in the beautiful garden full of flowers. Even with all the power of their scent, the lovely flowers could not produce enough energy to pull him out of his dream, to put him back on the stage of life. He paid no attention to her presence. She stood up, shook her head, walked past the man, made no move to wake him up. He stirred a bit then lay still. She walked away without turning her head around.

     As she left the park, she  noticed the fire inside her body was no longer there. Her children must be waiting for her and worried that she was so late coming home. She wouldn’t disturb them. Having been in this state of mind sometimes before, she thought she needed to go back to see the doctor for help. She was so important to her children, if not to “the other”. Perhaps the chemicals in her body were insufficient or weather didn’t agree with her. But that seemed not to be the answer. She knew deep in her heart what was wrong, but she didn’t want to acknowledged it.

     The lights inside her home were on, her eldest daughter must have got dinner ready by now. When she thought of her daughter, she felt sorry that she hadn’t paid too much attention to her lately. She rushed in. All her children were there. She wanted to cry, but she didn’t. She felt relieved because she was now safely home. The children started to tell her about their day at school, they laughed, and she promised to herself that she would go to see her doctor tomorrow.

Dã-Thảo Quế Trần,

Sydney Spring 2000