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Page 17
Download PDF of this full issue: v27n1.pdf (9.8 MB)

<< 16. Shelly's Song18. 11/11/84 >>

Requiem for a Vietnamese Sampan Girl

By Jackson H. Day

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Decades have passed

since your unspeakable death

at the hands of the Americans.




But I only just heard.

My heart is pierced

as if it were yesterday.


I feel such anger.

I rage at all who do not know,

who have not heard,

who do not share

the burden of your pain,

the burden of our shame.




Driving down the highway,

I am surrounded by wildflowers:

Pink and violet wildflowers

Dancing in the sun.


I feel your presence among the wildflowers.

My eyes fill with tears.

I drive down the highway,

sobbing among the wildflowers,

seeing rainbows in the bright sunlight.




Our Lady of the wildflowers:

Have mercy upon us who share a terrible humanity;

Grant us the peace that dances in the sun.


"Some background may be appropriate: At the annual meeting of the National Conference of Vietnam Veteran Ministers in October, we heard a presentation on PTSD which included the concept of "Secondary Trauma." That is, if you have been through a terrible experience and been traumatized by it, and now you tell me about it, I too am now traumatized by it. Surely not as much as you, but traumatized, nevertheless. That's important knowledge for people in the helping professions, who have to learn to handle what they hear and not be damaged by it, or their ability to help may go away.

"With this in the background, a fellow veteran minister shared with me the account of an atrocity which had recently been shared with him by a veteran who had been involved in it. He was upset and needed someone to share with. After hearing the account, I needed to deal with the account somehow. Seeing some wildflowers along the highway the next day, I absolutely went to pieces. My own way of exposing trauma to the healing resources it needs is poetry."

-- Jackson Day

<< 16. Shelly's Song18. 11/11/84 >>

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