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What’s mine is yours

Poems about intergenerational trauma.

Photography by Emma Cao. Photography by Emma Cao.

Công Của Bố [1] 

You serve catfish on our table

drenched in fish sauce and fresh chili.

Fried like your skin was on those glaring summer days.

Supple like your lips if they could have spoken.

Glossy like your sweat that protruded in fear.

 

When it was alive like you are,

I wonder: was it shocked in its sanctuary like you were?

had it tried to escape, as you did?

 

When I chew, it clings to the roof of my mouth,

as do things you try to tell me,

things you wished you could only have imagined.

 

You say you lose your appetite after you finish cooking

but you do it anyway.

And we eat it, anyway.


[1] The efforts of my father.


Saving Face (Sorry in Vietnamese)

Remorse in the steaming white rice, that scorches your palate.

Woe in the soup so sour, your lips pucker.

Repentance when I cut fruits that swell up your windpipe.

And then we both move forward.