VC

I just tripped on bamboo in Trung’s backyard. 
It snapped, not too loud but loud enough 
for him to catch me. We’re eleven, playing “VC” 
with his four brothers. VC is like Tag,  
but if you’re “it,” you have to pretend  
to be the Viet Cong. It’s my turn  
to be the Viet Cong, but first Trung wants 
to tell me something broken and jungle dark. 
His brothers’ laughter betrays their hiding places. 
I don’t have the heart to find them.  
 
Trung tells me about his sister wailing,  
looking back home, looking ready to turn into salt; 
about their father’s slap on her cheek 
followed by a caress on the red spot. 
The seasick boat rocks and awaits them. 
The late night air is chilly. 

Half of Trung’s brothers have peed themselves. 
I’m the Viet Cong, and I can almost smell it. 
Ten years later, Trung and I smoke some strong 
stinky weed together on break from our different 
colleges, and I lose him in the haze. I look 
on Facebook and in the phone book.   
I’ll never find him. 

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