PRAYER FOR THE HANOI MAN WHO WAITS
FOR BREAKDOWNS ON HIS BLOCK
One like him on every block, a man
who crouches by his tray of parts: gears,
plugs, bolts, sprockets, cogs, his greasy
jewels displayed on slick black oil.
But this is for the man on Hang Bai Street,
the block before the lake—the man who looked
away when I walked past, who dropped his eyes
to hide the war of scars his body is.
Oh God, so much to fix. Give him, once
a day at least, a woman at his feet; give him
what it takes to fix her limping bike.
Forgive us all. Make his next world one
that doesn’t always fall apart around him.
from Threshold (Southern Illinois University Press, 2010)
“Prayer for the Hanoi Man Who Waits for Breakdowns on His Block”
originally appeared in Whetstone