Vuong Quoc, my name means “kingdom,”
but for what kingdom was I named?
The Kingdom of Vietnam had long gone,
the last monarch long left his walled palace
empty as a tomb by the year I was born.
And what year I was born, my mother still
cannot recall, lonely in that dark hospital room.
The city outside no longer a princely realm
of tree lined streets and gardens, a busy marketplace,
but a fallen city, in ruins of war,
smoke still rising from its rooftops,
bodies floating down its river.
What was it my mother must have dreamed
to have named me Vuong Quoc—
what fabled era of history, for what period
of peace time and prosperity had she longed
as she held me in her arms?
We left Vietnam soon after I was born,
and we went so far away I could never
find my way back home, that distant kingdom,
that place to lay my princely heart.