274: Initial Encounter with Locals

274: Initial Encounter with Locals

274: Initial Encounter with Locals

Initial Encounter with Locals
by Hai-Dang Phan

           Vietnamese Phrase Book, Department of the Army pamphlet, 1962


1.
Enter the village alone.

The password is _________.
Each individual must know these passwords.

Select the most able-bodied messengers.
Promise. Hurry. Swear.

We’ll wait. All of you will wait.

2.
Come with me to the orchard.
Don’t be afraid. We are friends.

Have a cigarette. Are you afraid?
Why? Of whom? What?

You certainly read our leaflets.

3.
What is the name of that mountain?
Which color is the most recognizable
from a distance? From what spot
could we have a better view?

What are the usual questions?
Who usually comes to this forest?

4.
We cannot see from here
what we wish to observe.

We need an open place—
a meadow, field, plateau.

It must be far away.
Do you know of any such place?

We will pay for everything.

5.
Point on the map.
We will call it the “drop zone.”

Take care of this map.
We cannot give you another.

Here is my watch.
When shall we see you again?

Good luck.

"Initial Encounter with Locals" by Hai-Dang Phan, from REENACTMENTS by Hai-Dang Phan, copyright © 2019 Sarabande Books. Used by permission of Sarabande Books.

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