For a few dollars, the guards will let you stay
long after the last visitors leave the museum.
For more money, they'll tell you ghost stories.
There is a boy, they say, who wanders the halls
of the museum at night. He glows orange,
the color of napalm burns, of wounds not healed.
He glows like faint fire. The guards will tell you
the museum is never quiet at night. It murmurs.
Once called the American War Crimes Museum,
it is now called the War Remnants Museum,
the name change perhaps a gesture of forgiveness,
but it is no less brutal, no less incriminating.
There are exhibits on executions, contraptions
to torture prisoners of war, a room dedicated
to the My Lai Massacre with pictures of bodies
stacked along village roads, bodies thrown into wells.
There is a hall full of jars, in each, a deformed fetus.
Agent Orange. Perhaps this is where
the ghost child rests at day, the sweet prince asleep
in this most grotesque of mausoleums.
Wait until darkness comes, in the echoes
of the empty museum, the children call
and murmur from their sleep,
Come close and listen, and I shall tell you more.
Come, look closely, and I shall show you remnants of war.
Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Vuong Vu grew up in San Jose, CA. He has an MFA degree in creative writing and is widely published, including in the first issue of Lantern Review.• Photo by the author