Marine, why are you in my country? You tell me you are here to save me. I don’t believe you. Marine, you are not listening to me. I don’t hate you and your eyes tell me you don’t hate me. Marine, why are you in my country? Open your eyes. What keeps my words from reaching your heart? Why did you kill me? Why did I kill you? I died before you knew me. You died before you understood. Come to me – open your heart. I will hold you and you will know me and understand.
— Paul Davis
Paul Davis, Authentic Connection of the Heart, read this poem last year at the retreat in Stonehill. He explains: “In 1965, as a nineteen-year-old Marine, I went to Vietnam knowing little about life and nothing about the Vietnamese people and culture. My belief system, developed as a child in rural America in the 1950s, sheltered me from seeing the reality of that war. However, at a deeper level my experiences in Vietnam were being stored. Later, as my desire to look deeply grew and as my heart opened, I was able to re-examine my experience. Several years ago while on retreat with Thay and the Sangha, I wrote this poem. It was inspired by a question a young Vietnamese girl asked me in 1966 and I wrote it in her voice.”