excerpted from “Ho Chi Minh at Mouth of Source, 1941
by Benjamin Goluboff
{from e-Issue #6}

Socrates: And if they were in the habit of conferring honours among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honours and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer, Better to be the poor servant of a poor master, and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?

Glaucon: Yes, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.   

—The Republic

 

Marx named he the mountain,
and the river, swift and cold
at the border, he called Lenin.

After exile, Ho entered
Cao Bang province like Adam
naming the landscape.

Ho fished in Lenin’s waters,
and made of the shoots that grew
on the bank a healthful soup.

For shelter he had the cave in Marx,
called locally Pac Bo, Mouth
of Source, for the springs that rise there.

Ho slept on a plank in the cave
in Marx, and wrote there
the founding documents.

History does not say what Ho saw
shadowed on the wall, or if he knew
that the shadows were shadows.

Benjamin Goluboff teaches English at Lake Forest College. Aside from a modest list of scholarly publications, he has placed imaginative work—poetry, fiction, and essays—in more than a dozen literaraty magazines. Some of his work can be read at: www.lakeforest.edu/academics/faculty/goluboff/