Nguyễn Thị Mai

I wake up next to sunflower seeds
full of protein without salt conveying
his honesty so with calm convenience
I consign to a hastily selected eternal object

it took me more than a decade
to allow my bare shoulders the touch of sunlight

my composed wrongdoings trace a language
whose sounds I know though hardly its meanings
I lie in the young river naked arms
folded across my chest my heart opening

the first breath is for a hyphened
identity which insists on their recognition
after I breathe towards embracing my bloodline
I am learning to play sao trúc

distanced sisters find each other
an intimacy rooted in parenthetical legs
in two lines sleeping together their corresponding
fingers carve out a space inciting altered litanies

she leans against me
I want her to lean against me

we forgive our parents everything
attune to the violent emotion necessitating
the naming of things the elliptical naivety
the interstices of leaving ancestral soil

I make the first wolf
he opens me up to more oxygen

at the scene of gathering mountains
sink into each other he treasures me
so openly offers me hibiscus flowers
he sings the words until I can sing them

I am growing my hair again finally
it shall be woven into a plait tied around
my head affixed with a golden pin once
held by the hands of a grandmother

I fold rituals into my day I choose
my most unwavering red silk dress
I repeat his last sentences to myself
our motif may face any direction

I howl at you I adore you

they fancy us to be forgetful their
cage is crystalline built at the expense
of the women they hire they expect
us to memorize their tragedies

sacrificing clean water clinging to black gold
they act as if they share an enterprise

fencing air was enticing enough the police
are already there or they are coming
in my left hand I carry a knife lavishly
I realize processed foods are exhausting

name this conflicted energy name
the one who exploits you even a
slight convulsion of our conflict generous
as a ghost infiltrates their institutions

with tiger balm on our painful joints we falsely
save ourselves our evidence of grief our lack of
iron we swallow their post-political self-evidencies
even suffer from traces of overheard conversations

there are several ways of coping with the reality at hand
a false estimate: he cut off my hair

rather than only annihilating texts
we extend the same river without really
referencing or crediting a mythical homeland
practically white we confess their relevance

my lilac everything do I still feed you
remember I am not tied to the unrest around us

he looks at me and wants me to sing
this is your living mud he said now dig into it
dig into reconciled strivings while the others
painstakingly pretend that we are all in the wrong

the Vietnamese diaspora is actually a thing?
you want to give me a new sin

are you trying to seduce me
with your angelic voice I am a witness
half asleep and longing for an intense proximity
I want you to lick my knees

there’s a conjuring going on
we have had enough of the cut

we have been force fed white sugars
devotedly consume rice for the bones still
exercising the advantages of a model minority
we are just shooting for assimilation

severed from ancestral lovely nutrients
we spend our time indecisively while
obsessing over something untrue in my palm
I carry wild rice grains and a newly sprouted plant

a spectral quality slashes into bare life
we are committed to reviving lost medicines
reprised relations the inheritance of shame
we are drawn to the communal premise

he points out my magnesium deficiency
now elicit the fatal flaw

we animate our we our sick
sensitive sidelined bodies we fake
worker militancy the popular phrases
tacitly fasten to another cause to our fists

we can no longer afford to be cynical
we must ask a stone

they may profit from a slow acidic ache
for us to shed new meaning may comprise
injuries of un-homing and communal howls
many are already bored

we languish listlessly misfiring our efforts
with a chant that went wrong the revolt
suspended delicately moistened until
there is no one left to go to work

I honor my silent mother send her
lavender energy turmeric prayers I talk to her
I give my sisters first preference saving them
with the dark precursor that I have gained

akin to not hearing them as complaining
this grounding is the call

I desire a life with jade bracelets
of taking pristine care of our bloodline
the dragon the fairy my hands reach to
the ground smiling I heave back and forth

my divine wolf are we experiencing a kind of tragedy
more grace more meaning my jaw is hurting

I will weave you a cilantro crown
make sure you never consume
any soy lecithin again I will lay
my long hair over your face at night

I’m picking thistles with my fingers the sun
makes me sleepy we want the nectar
the land we summon healthy hymns
celebrating the uprising itself

our erotic connotations are growing wings
we find new layers of resonance recall
acts of grace the red is not in the atoms
it’s in the way the atoms come together

I promise I will await you
and if you let go I’ll keep singing until