Sông Thu Bồn dreaming

This poem was inspired by the WrICE collaborative residency in Vietnam in January 2015. It was created beside the Sông Thu Bồn, the river that runs through the UNESCO World Heritage listed and ancient city of Hoi An in Vietnam.

Thu Bon River Hoi An

Thu Bon River Hoi An

Sông Thu Bn dreaming

An Hoi Island,

Hoi An Ancient Town


It is a slow open pass

The way we

Together come fish

By this river

See what there is

To catch –


she says, What I thought

What we are –

Here –

This promised land

This how we know



Where is the mouth, someone asks

Just follow the river our riverguide says

Just follow           The river

This dreaming will teach you

Go, go!

How in night waters

It nets fish

How –

Through the day

It swings ginger breezes

Ten metres square

Suspended yellow high


What if

In the company

Of others

What if with this mustard joy


At midnight

– when we can hardly breathe

We join up


We by river

We hold hands

We each


Up –


What if

We sleep side by side

We eat river views

Catch boats around surprise corners

Ride bicycles down lanterned streets

Pass each other in fish markets

Walk – laugh – cry


What if

We have a go

Wrestle each other

Open up

– with love, yêu

Soak our feet in darling water

Lemon grass our rose petals

Make vodka out of potatoes

Ride upside down over bridges

Swim tenderly with cement swans

Put our poems beside bananas to ripen faster


What if –

This water

What if this dreaming

This ‘good times’

This Sông Thu Bồn –

What if we listen

We read

We write

We give a shit

What if we make

Poetry grit across still waters

Exchange whispers our imaginary


Abi-na-ko, she repeats sotto voce

What I thought, what we think –

Con-viv-encia comes the echo

To live together


– turning that into this


Ah yes – this tender-nest

This promise before

This river beside

This inching towards

This weight of gold

zheng-kaam –

What if?

We          are

We aaaahh

Go! go!


By Francesca Rendle-Short