By Karen J. Coates / Photo by Jerry Redfern
An American bomb detonates on Laotian soil. Thirty years later, a villager exhumes the pieces and delivers them to a scrap metal yard. There they sit in a heap until Lee Moua, a Hmong man, plunks down a little money for a mangled chunk.
He takes the metal to his homemade blacksmith shop in a parched backyard among pineapples and sugarcane. He fires a bed of coals, working beneath a rusty roof on a bamboo frame. His bellows are made from a parachute flare canister, his anvil is an artillery shell driven into a stump. Moua heats and pounds his bomb fragment, toiling most of a sweltering afternoon.
When he finishes his work, he has a silvery object, straight from a blistering fire. Its blade is wicked sharp, capable of practical things. It is a simple creation really: a garden hoe. READ MORE (PDF)