Heritage

Sunday, February 10, 2019 - 4:27pm

.

Jack Silberman

 

In our language, we say bị thương when we mean hurt.

In our language, we say thương when we mean love.

 

i love you

 

Impossible.

In our language, you and i don’t exist.

 

II.

 

Long ago,

strangers

traveled through

our lands,

marking their

path with Latin

script & carnage.

Not everyone

at home could

read, but we

understood

sacrifice.

My sisters

whispered làm

ơn into

the future

& watched it

spit back the

entrails of

a prayer.         

 

III.

 

This was not the first time I had tasted blood. Maybe I would have drank until my lips stained wine if I wasn’t convinced he was just a man. Once, I chewed a body flat. Also once, a woman loaned touch and took me as collateral, which goes to show that suffering is hereditary.   

 

IV.

 

Don’t be scared. You belong to me like sunlight seen on the other side of the world.   

 

V.

 

The story stalls somewhere

between climax and conquest.

His fair skin.

My absolution.

I never asked to illuminate

such blue desire.

Desire

was the most I could be

not to be his at all.

For men always want

what they don’t have.

 

VI.

 

Chúa ơi, where have you gone?

I dreamt the sky but awoke

in a minefield swept clean.

Now the stars are dead.

 

Inside, bà nội kneels at the altar,

feeds paper to the flames:

spirit money for the poor of heart.

Dust settles and I believe again.