March 2020

Back to Issue 7

Eating banh mi near Ben Thanh

By Vanessa Page


Comfort clad for swelter,

I’m seeking banh mi near Ben Thanh.

Non-descript feels right.

To be one part of a throng:

one more forgettable hand waving

Dong at a street cart.


I become smaller still,

curled knee-bend tight

inside the eye of a needle.


I think of your body

laid out at the hotel, the air con


We are fusion,

over-salted and off-kilter,

more soft-bleed than blunt trauma,

the shift: slow, slow.


At Hong Hoa, the queue 

snakes and shuffles

an assembly method at its head,

tightly efficient: the cool relief

of pickle, cucumber and coriander

–  the sweet song of chilli and pork.


It feels new.

A cultural hijack,

an artefact of perfect textures.

I walk and eat,

with my grab-bag of metaphors

history lesson in one hand,

a shower of perfect crumbs