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Sleepless in Thăng Long - Scarlet Letters

Jan. 29th, 2012 04:06 pm Sleepless in Thăng Long

The ceiling fan churns heavy air.
I lie awake, on sweat-slicked sheets.
Insects tangle above my head,
jostling vampiric mopeds at rush hour,
rebounding single-mindedly off mosquito netting,
seeking shortcuts to my blood.

Legend has it
that three sweet, sweet bites
will restore them to their human form.

But when an enterprising bloodsucker
succeeds in breaching my mosquito defences,
he usually doesn't stop at three.
There's good bite in this bottom,
and too few other humans in this bed.
So I tend to doubt this tale.

Tomorrow it is Sunday,
so the man upstairs will be hammering tiles
into his floor, my ceiling.
Renovation, installation or fetish?
He starts with the roosters
and doesn't stop until I am raggedly awake,
crowing with weary resentment.

The sky tears
and clatters on tin sheet roofing.
The air cools
and, at last, I sleep, with the city coiled around me.
Somewhere, in my dreams,
I can feel it exhale.


PS I'm in Laos. I'm writing about Vietnam. I don't know why, either. Catharsis?

Current Location: Lao People's Democratic Republic, Pakse

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