Same Eyes, Different View

Same Eyes, Different View
by Indigo Willing

I was recently asked by a friend about what it was like returning to Vietnam for the first time. The first trip I took back fell at a very confusing and difficult time in my life. It was such an emotional time too that even now, I find it hard to articulate. I loved seeing Vietnam. It is a beautiful country with amazing people. But it was also overwhelming, with so much washing over me. This poem written in 2002 about my returning to Vietnam for the first time. It is now slightly revised and dedicated to my adoptee family and especially Rick C. who has always ‘got’ where I’m coming from (rather than just ‘where I came from’ ).


Same eyes, different view

I feel like I should somehow belong to you

In your Vietnamese eyes do I have a somewhat similar face

I’ve spent a lifetime identified as the same as you by that construct called ‘race’

But behind my eyes is a white puzzled gaze

Built from a white upbringing and western ways

And Vietnamese language, I don’t know

I wasn’t even aware that pho doesn’t rhyme with go

But I’ve come ‘home’ to find a sense of family that I am told has been lost

And I play out this script through much emotional struggle and cost

I’m visiting Vietnam for Tet and don’t know if I belong

So many cultural misunderstandings make me feel wrong

An orphan with no family relying on strangers to be kind

I fear I don’t really know what or who I want to find

I’ve returned to Saigon/HCMC, part excitement and part fear

Chuc Mung Nam Moi or Happy New Year

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