On Not Knowing You, a Cambodian American Legacy
You would think I would know
what to do with loss—
remote like a prayer,
urgent like a country.
This can’t be grief.
I’m never sad enough.
Even when I eat my parents’ memories,
my palate cannot place them.
The names of fruit, vegetables, people
dissipate before I can fix my mind
to that task of holding on to them,
what grew in the ground by their homes,
and who lived there,
and who died.
Once, there, I walked through
a grove of low trees with wide leaves.
Mango, they said, which I believed,
though I saw none.
They could have said anything,
and I would have believed them.
In the distance, coconut trees,
iconic and swaying,
framed the horizon
I only recognized just now.
More than 120,000 people in the world have died today,
but I haven’t.
Sometimes having no faith is a blessing.
I wake up each day without warning.
I know I’m not alone.
Like this one poem that keeps
composing itself while
I’m in the shower
where I have no pen.
The words keep slipping
down the drain, finding their own
wet kin in the pipes.
Should I feel grief
or relief? That I am still
making poems out of nothing.
On a panel, I heard a poet say,
the poems don’t belong to you anymore.
They have their own lives to live.
That’s what makes it art.
This makes me nervous.
All the living things I have made
are all destined to die.
There has been
in New York City.
So the baby
with its trash
(Featured image from Pixabay)