Girl In White Ao Dai
Her gossamer ao dai covers everything,
hides nothing. Midnight in Phu Cat hair
hangs straight to a delicate waist,
red lips so vibrant the bougainvillea she passes
shrinks its blooms. She flows by
languid as the nearby Mekong river.
She is economy of motion.
Diners at sidewalk café tables stop
talking, stare with a palpable hunger.
Her sandaled feet barely touch the war-worn ground,
bring her ever closer. Minutes ago I was
just another homesick G.I., my hangover
a howitzer exploding in my head but now
she is closer still, and my mind fumbles
for a clever greeting. My legs cross
and uncross, my hands fuss
with a pack of Marlboros and I wonder
if she smokes. She smiles
and her porcelain face animates
in recognition; I open my mouth
unsure what words will clumsily fall out.
Unsteadily, I straighten up. She stops, rests
her hand on my arm, laughingly purrs
pardon me and slides past into the embrace
of an officer behind me. They kiss,
the white silk ao dai clings
to her petite frame, I watch until
it becomes uncomfortable, turn
and walk by the diners watching them,
envy on their faces.