My father is a missionary
in Saigon, and every day
he sits or stands
in his white cotton shirt
and talks to servicemen
and the Vietnamese about Jesus.
While my mother rests
through the heat of the day,
I walk behind him
to Buddha’s temple. There,
in a small public pump house,
open on four sides and draped
in flowers, he chooses one
of the dozen brass water spouts
under the pagoda-shaped
roof and fills our collapsible
plastic vessels with water purified
by filters and blessed by the priests.
After seven months,
we will send the sponsors slides.
Report from the Field:
my father behind a podium
in a crowded upstairs room;
my father in the park
near the elephant exhibit;
my father in a flak jacket
in a jeep headed for Da Nang.
This is the prayer he left for me:
women in white silk
laughing, letting water run
over their fingers, and my father
kneeling hatless in the flower-scented
air, learning another sound
for praise, teaching his daughter
a reverence for water.