It Can Not Go On Forever (Còn Đến Bao Giờ) Poem written by Supreme Master Ching Hai in London (1975) For the girl named Hương Originally in English Poem collection “Traces of Previous Lives”
It Can Not Go On Forever
I used to walk over dead bodies Of our so-called “enemies” On the way to school, When I was very young!
My aunt’s house was blown up When she was thirty-four. I couldn’t recognize her face, Next morning anymore.
Will we be born in another life? I wondered all the time. And where go those broken legs, Broken fingers, broken minds? Will they ever join together To complete a “next life”?...
I used to see houses burnt to ashes On the way home from town. All the life-time’s hard work, Fell ashed to the ground!
And the olds went crazy, The youngs got nervous breakdowns, And the children, hungry, With nothing to grow!
My uncle was arrested, Accused of being with “the other side.” My angry young cousin Refused the army, refused to fight. They were both in prison: Two sentences for life!
Many of my relatives, High ranking in the army – But they are half dead, half crippled Couldn’t help any...
I saw many things, That I will never forget. All these horrible feelings, Rooted deeply in my head...
I wondered who was right, And wondered who was wrong. They both had their reasons And beliefs thousands strong!
Who was I to make the choice? I only wanted to live my life in peace. One way or another, This cannot go on forever... I couldn’t change the war, so I changed my life. Not gonna be a killer, to join either side.
I was glad to be a woman, With a little good looks, To trade for my freedom, For another sky I chose to be “reborn.”
I became a prostitute to survive the capital town, I married a G.I. for a passport to get out. OK, I didn’t marry for love. But how many others can vow?...
I got my freedom, I got my visa. It cost hundreds of dollars From my poor husband’s pocket, I owed him my life and more!
But I’ve never been quite happy. I miss my village, I miss my family, I miss the smoke from home cooking, rising in the sunset, While cows and buffaloes walk back leisurely. I miss the moonshine on the backyard, Many beautiful nights before the war.
And New Year wind opened all gates When golden rice glittered precious, And roasted yams sweet as sugar And children were allowed to play till late hours...
Even the opera singing that I did not like, The black satin costume our women wear every day That I thought as peasant and grievous, I miss them now, so far away.
I miss all the places I did not see, Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Lang Son, Hon Gay... How many more on the other side of river Ben Hai? Closed in like prison, after armistice-settlement-Genève.
I miss the food, as I miss the poems, The lover of my first dream, The schoolmates: some alive, some dead, The black humor and the double meanings.
I miss everything, I miss everywhere, The places and the things I could not share. But if I happen to go back, Will I still belong there!?...