by Jasmin Randick
I still smell it even after all these years. The stench. Rot hung like a curtain over the humid streets.
I hear myself again, “Hey G.I., I give you love. Best love you find!”
Nights I can’t sleep, I look at the city lights. Chicago took me in. I have family now. A place to lay my head. But the touch of my kid’s hand or the slide of a man’s palm can’t wipe the stain. Nor forgive the sins.
Saigon. Damn you!
Hot kisses on my breasts. Some of them boys still. Boys who needed. Boys who cried. They tried to forget in the creak of bedsprings and the rhythmic slap of our slick bodies in the dark. There were bruises. But yeah G.I., I always deserved them.
I told you I give good love. Best around.
Sometimes I’m a bird. The wind sweeps me back to the shores of Vietnam. I fly home again, really home, high over dark jungles; cast my shadow on swaying fronds, leafy banana trees. I skim rice paddies; sweat under a burning, Asian sun.
And when I reach Saigon, I finger the tattered curtains in my old room, hear the drum of monsoon rain and the lumber of hulking, green tanks in the crowded streets. I swill cheap whiskey to the angry red eye of a tracer searing the night. I feel a stranger’s tears wetting my back and become the cold moon riding above me.
I still remember. I don’t forget.