Thursday, May 31, 2007


I met Trangdai Tranguyen once. All serenity and friendliness, she was stirring a pot of perfectly clear and flavour-rich chicken broth she'd prepared for pho at Sandra's place.

Soon after, I was entranced as I read three slim volumes of her poetry in mostly one night.

This is an excerpt from Daddy's Weekend, a poem in Songs For A Boat Father:

you're keyed up running to each room
asking, inviting,
- Get up! Let's go have breakfast!
the five children turn over
all five

The father is also pictured toiling over dinner, pulling a movie from his archive for his children, constantly on the go during the weekend -- highly enthused, sacrificial, pouring love into the lives of his children whom he'd missed for years when he migrated alone from Vietnam to the US.

Such poems that so tenderly portray the translocation trials of refugee families are transformed into the universal with Trangdai's skilled pen.

Certainly it reminds me of my own sacrificial Dad. The way he enrolled us in the best schools where he had to make patient, persistent connections. The opportunities he gave us out of his limited resources, and the times he played with us. He brought me to the library when I was six and I began my lifelong love for books. I think he was the only person who tried to imagine the extraordinarily intense first days of my life in the US, and that humbles and amazes me much.

Our fathers are wonderful and flawed. They are an imperfect but still-shining glimpse of the Father's heart and the God-designed love He placed in the hearts of men for their children.

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