Four children with little, naked Kim Phuc
run down Route 1 by Trang Bang. Seven soldiers
in uniform behind little, naked Kim Phuc
lift their boots away from Trang Bang. One
often-cropped photographer, four steps beside little,
naked Kim Phuc, loads his Canon to shoot Trang Bang.
The children burn and run. The soldiers walk,
but one, far off, a miniature ghost, talks to the cloud
and refuses to follow as the children dance away
from their pluming rose garden. The helmets pull
the men toward the space between the fire
and the naked nine-year-old flying, her arms wings
of the fallen. Phan Thi Kim Phuc’s family
are behind the firewall, among the dead. Some
of the soldiers blur like the clouds
they called down. One, who can’t consider the ground
of boiling blood, faces the smoke of freedom. We all
look away. Only the youngest child, a little boy
in a white cotton shirt, orphan of falling fires, looks back,
his eyes blistered away from time, toward Trang Bang.
Gary Dop—a poet, scriptwriter, essayist, and actor—lives with his wife and three daughters in Minneapolis, where he teaches creative writing at North Central University. He received a Special Mention in the 2011 Pushcart Prize Anthology, his essays have aired on public radio’s All Things Considered, and his poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Agni, New Letters, Rattle, and North American Review, among others.
Read our interview with Gary here.