Ho Chi Minh died on the second of September, Vietnam’s Independence Day. For forty-eight hours his end was kept from the public. Adoration, mayhem, grief that breeds chaos, all that aside, he joined the ranks of those who died on the day millions were born into a national identity.
Thomas Jefferson belongs to that club. He checked out on the fourth of July. Also, on the fourth of July, Saladin won the Battle of Hattin and paved the way to recapture Jerusalem. Did Jefferson ever think of that while holding a Quran in his lap? Paul Bowles, too. He died in Tangiers on Moroccan Independence Day but chose to be buried in New York. Home is what the dying call out for.
In Houston, on an unknown date, a miniature of the Ho Chi Minh Trail was resurrected for the city’s urbanites, a biking catacomb. I took my two-wheeler to it and the soul of an unburied dead bounced me over my rails and dislocated my shoulder. I heard no laugh, no whimper, my eyes were open. Someone I couldn’t see popped my shoulder back in place. It was a deal.
Read Fady Joudah’s “Kissing Ulcers” in the print edition of The Arkansas International 6.
Fady Joudah’s fourth and most recent poetry collection is Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance (Milkweed, 2018).