Im Lặng – Silence

The Trần sisters: from left, Trần Mộng Chi, Trần Mộng Tú, and Trần Mộng Điệp, the oldest. (Photo courtesy of TMT)

Im Lặng – Silence

A Morning Farewell to Trần Mộng Chi (*)


Chiếc bình thân thể rỗng
Mỗi người đứng một góc
Tự ôm lấy mặt mình
Lẻ loi riêng mình khóc

Nhìn nhau nhìn nhau thôi
Bờ vai không cho gục
Bàn tay không cho nắm
Tự mình nắm tay mình
Ôi bàn tay cô độc!

Mỗi người một bông hồng
Chiếc áo quan im lặng
Những bông hoa im lặng
Những giọt lệ im lặng
Tiễn một linh hồn đi
Một linh hồn im lặng

Thượng Đế cũng im lặng
Nghiêng tai nghe lời kinh
Những lời kinh thầm lặng
Vực hồn ai an bình

Buổi sáng thật im lặng
Không tiếng chim bay ngang
Hoa anh đào im lặng
Vừa nở trong nghĩa trang


Our bodies like empty vases
Each in our own corner
Our faces buried in our hands
Crying silently, alone

We look at each other passively
With no shoulder to lean on
Without another’s hand to hold
We clutch our own hands
How lonely, these hands!

Each one of us with a rose
The casket is silent
The flowers are silent
The tears are silent
Mourning a passing soul
The soul is silent

God is also silent
Listening to the prayers
The prayers are soundless
Embracing a resting soul

The morning is silent
Not even the sound of birds flying
Silent are the cherry flowers
Just blooming in the cemetery


tmt – 3/20/2020
(Translated by Nguyen Hung Vu)


(*) Trần Mộng Chi, 74, was Poet Trần Mộng Tú’s younger sister. She died March 16, 2020 in Seattle, WA, infected by the Coronavirus while working at a local senior care center. The family said farewell to her before her remains were cremated, while keeping a safe social distance from one another, on the eve of the first day of spring.

In an effort to inform friends and relations about the fast development of COVID-19, Trần Mộng Tú prepared this narrative:

“On Monday March 9, at a senior care center in Redmond where Trần Mộng Chi worked, a worker was suspected of having been infected by Covid-19. All employees had to take their temperature for fever. Chi’s temperature was a bit higher than everyone else’s. She left work for home, took a Tylenol tablet, rested, and the fever was gone. On Tuesday morning she had a fever again, so she went to a medical office for a coronavirus test, which was positive. On Wednesday, she checked into Overlake Hospital Medical Center in Bellevue, WA. On Friday she talked with her two sisters. She called sister Điệp first in the morning, and Tú called her in the afternoon. Chi said she had been able to sleep the night before. On Saturday morning, her daughter called Tú, who first thought Chi would be released from the hospital. But the daughter said her mother’s conditions had worsened. Within just two days, Chi’s lungs, liver, then kidneys followed one another to stop working. On Sunday morning, Chi’s daughter called and informed her mother’s kidneys had completely shut down. On Monday morning, her heart was struggling. On Monday evening, hospital doctors suggested to remove the support device so she could go since it wouldn’t be long and her heart wouldn’t have to fight with the device.

“The priest arrived and, from behind the glass wall separating him from the patient, gave her the Catholic last rites before the doctor removed Chi from the support machine. Father Gary, the pastor of St. Louise Parish, is also the priest who gave the last rites to Chi’s youngest daughter, Teresa Do Boyd, who died of cancer 18 months ago.

“The Covid came and took her away within just one week. Her survivors include her husband, six children and several grandchildren, a brother, two sisters, and nieces and nephews. Please pray for the soul of Martha.


Trần Mộng Tú was born in 1943 in Hà Nội, grew up in Sài Gòn since 1954, and came to the U.S. in 1975. She has published over six collections of poetry and short stories. She currently lives in Bellevue, WA.


  1. Tu, how could I know you all these years and never know you were a poet and a beautiful writer of prose?
    Thank you so much for sharing the poem and a description of your sister’s last days on earth. She is in my prayers. So are you! I am so glad we are friends.


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