The Paddy Field

The lights hiding behind the floating clouds
Like a shy kid on the first day of school.
The lights kiss my tanned, yellow skin;
I outstretch my arms to receive
A mark of love from mother nature.

After the rain,
The grassland put on a new coat.
After the rain,
The tears of the sky
Are still sleeping on the paddy field.
After the rain,
The slumber-laden rice plant
Starts dancing on the paddy field.

The warm and moist air
Surroundings the atmosphere
Reminds me of my mother's hugs.
Taking off my cramped city shoes,
Walking bare-footed,
The wet ground lifts my body into the air,
Floating through the narrow pathway.

Far far away,
I see a hunchbacked lady
Working in the field
Carry her child
Singing lullaby.

On her back
There is a carrying pole full of rice;
On her back
There is her kid
With red cheeks and yellow skin
holdin' a grass doll
dreaming about peacetime;
On her back
There is her husband
carrying weapons in his hands
Fighting for his country
Fighting for his child's dream;
On her back
There is Vietnam.

An angel
A grandmother, a mother, a sister
Without name.
An angel
A grandmother, a mother, a sister
We should not forget.

This poem won the Poetry Prompt Prize for December 2022. It is inspired by Joanne Epp's prompt "Let the Music Take You".

Poetry Editor Brandon Wint writes about "The Paddy Field" by Phuc Nhien Tong:

"The Paddy Field" uses skillful syntax and specific imagery to create a poem that manages a near cinematic clarity, beauty and stillness. The poem's imagery and empathy creates a clear and profound bridge between worlds, experiences. 

Young woman standing in the forest

Phuc Nhien Tong

Grade: 11 / Sec. V
McNally School
Edmonton, AB

“The song begins with a gentle and high-faluting melody; that evokes in me a peaceful feeling like walking barefoot in the countryside. Later on, the melody becomes more vibrant, each note comes to life and tells about a war, an invisible war of the women working in that field, fighting for peace. In every war, we always focus on the soldiers holding guns on the battlefield and often forget about the “backstage”-women holding farming tools, working nonstop to support the war; and this poem was born to tell that they should never be forgotten.”

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