A Tree in Hanoi
It started with your letter about the heart-shaped tree in your hometown, Hanoi, the tree you hadn't seen in years. Before we became lovers, and after you said you would show me one day. When you finally took me to the corner of Duong Bac Son and Duong Hoang Dieu the branches had been trimmed and the tree had a different shape. You waited impatiently on your motorbike across from the cemetery that commemorated dead soldiers with no names. I took pictures of the confusing shapes. As if it never happened, the tree taking the form of a heart, the image in your letter coquettishly meant to bring me under your canopy. The laughter, gone. The man you left to come to me has found a younger and more successful woman.
The recipient of the letter—who is that man now? A solitary on a bench, smoking a cigar. But because the tree is still there we drive out to the street where it lives. If I love you, it's with the faith that somewhere there's a tree exactly as you described in your first letter, and it never changes. If you found it, you would know it, not the one on the corner of Duong Bac Son and Duong Hoang Dieu, was what you were writing of all along.