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Correspondent, Trickhouse vol. 12
Xuan Ngoc Nguyen - Vietnam

excerpts from

Washing Clothes in Moonlight

The War Stories of Xuan Ngoc Nguyen

Joan Fiset in Collaboration with Xuan Ngoc Nguyen

* * *

Father’s Squash

I know he have scars and pain. He wounded deep inside. And he doesn’t know where it come from, or where it direct to. 

I’m there. It easier to take it out on me than figure out.
He’s trying to survive too; one war after the next war.  How do he figure it out? Now I know that. Back then I don’t.  That’s why it hurt so much.

I’m not the only Vietnamese girl been through this. There’s lotsa me over there. 

Sometimes I am angry at my dad. I want to do something to him so bad I will sit down and I think about thing that I do to him. And I did.

He will grow vegetable. He will grow squash where it have something to climb. Grapevine arbor.  He let these squash climb up until it safely in place. 

When leaf of the squash grow thick they provide shade to our front porch. At the same time, when the squash grow it hang down. He raising a new crop. I waited. He watered. He fertilized. I help.

When it blossomed, when squash the size of my thumb, I get a long knife, poke into the ground. I cut all the roots.

He didn’t know.
 It get limp. He couldn’t figure out why. He teared it down. He took all the vine down and growed it again. I did it again. 

By the third time he thought the spirit of the God upset with him. Something is going on. He couldn’t figure out what happened. All the neighbor talking about it.

He brought flowers. He brought fruit to the Pagoda. He burn incense, and pray for forgiveness. I sneak in the corner of the Pagoda, listen to he pray and telling myself, “Haaa—haa do you pray to me asking me for forgiveness?” I couldn’t say it out loud. But every time he make a bow, every incense he burn, every incense burner he put one incense on, I knock my head. I have satisfaction. Say, “Keep doing it.” I had anger.


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