cyclo

Cyclo

Get in
and I’ll take you
to one of my
favorite places
When we get there,
you can pay
or give
what you like

That was what was written
on the wooden sign
hanging from the front of the old black cyclo,
its cushions soft and green,
the wooden armrests sanded smooth
and smelling of coconut oil
Rising from a small hole in an armrest
a stick of incense burned,
and from a thin glass vase
that rested in a hole in the other
a flower sent out love

♫ ♫ ♫

In the late morning
on a cool, clear autumn day
an old man got in,
and he did not say a word
Silent as well,
the cyclo driver set off
to one of his favorite places

♫ ♫ ♫

After a while they arrived
at an old tea house
Inside it was calm and peaceful
In low tones some of the patrons spoke,
while others sat in silence,
sipping their tea,
reading,
writing,
watching

Would you like to join me
for a cup of tea,
asked the old man?

I’d like that very much,
replied the driver

So in they went
and slipped out of time

♫ ♫ ♫

In the afternoon,
after his nap,
the cyclo driver awaited
his next fare

It wasn’t long before a young girl,
climbed into the cyclo
and said,
Let’s go!

And off they went,
winding their way
through narrow streets,
the scent of the hoa sua trees
in the air

♫ ♫ ♫

He took her to Lenin Park,
to a place where people were drumming,
and when they got there,
the little girl asked,
Would you like to dance?

And so they danced,
the cyclo driver
and the little girl,
to the rhythms of the drums,
to the singing of the birds,
to the sound of the wind
as it passed by

♫ ♫ ♫

As the sun was setting
and clouds danced,
pink, purple and orange
filling the sky,
a cat jumped into the cyclo

Meow

Okay

And off they went
from here to there,
while the day turned
into night

♫ ♫ ♫

Across Long Bien Bridge,
and then down to the river
they rode

The insect orchestra
is about to begin
Enjoy

The cat purred loudly
and then jumped down into the grass
and walked away,
her tail swaying
to and fro

♫ ♫ ♫

In the early evening
a young woman
got into the cyclo and sat down

I’m a bit hungry,
she said

I know just the place

And along the tree-lined streets
they rode,
turning here
and turning there,
the scent of incense
drifting through the air

♫ ♫ ♫

Kem xôi!
My favorite!

Mine too

Will you join me?

With pleasure

And so they sat down
at a little plastic table,
on little plastic chairs
Sidewalk cuisine
at its best

♫ ♫ ♫

I can’t walk as far as I used to,
said an old woman
as she climbed in and sat down

And off they went,
slowly,
gently,
carefully avoiding
all the bumps and dips

♫ ♫ ♫

Shall I buy one ticket
or two?
asked the old woman
when they pulled up in front of
Cinematheque

Two

And in the dark they watched some scenes
glide across a screen
to the sounds of a forest
at night

♫ ♫ ♫

I’m in a hurry,
said a woman
near the end
of summer

So through the night they rushed,
strands of her silky black hair
brushing against his face

♫ ♫ ♫

They arrived at the train station
in time to decide
between the last two trains
of the night

Will you take $500
or would you rather come with me?

North or South?

It doesn’t matter

I’ll come with you

So into the station they went

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