Courtesy: Brushstrokes, Journal of Asian American Experience in Ariz.
Reference: Fall 93, issue no. 3
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Once I asked if you loved me. You laughed and
questioned who would love my dog-born face. Then
you turned away to cough, and I, awkwardly, reached
for your back. Once I kissed your cheeks and tasted
grooves of your skin between my lips. You hit my
teenage green pimple with your quivering fist. I
laughed and dabbed my tears.

And the day I left you for America, you placed my
hands in your spread out palm. You spit chewed up
betel juice and circled it slowly on my hands.
"This is to help you not to miss Grandma too much."
You refused to go to the airport.

I was sixteen and a half when I left Viet Nam with
a five dollar bill and a few English greeting
phrases. From America, I wanted to send you 
newspapers and Smitty's plastic bags so you could
sell them by the gram. People threw them away here.
I wanted to send you a water bed so you could float
gently to your sleep. So your seventy five year
old body would not have to strike against the wooden
plank bed anymore. I worked the midnight shift at
a post office to send you dollars, bars of soap,
bottles of green oil, white laces.

I did not send you medicine, but prayers. I prayed
for you every night, while I listened to echoes of 
your constant coughing, of the hard thumps on your
arched body. The day I heard you died, I looked at
my face, half belonged to my mother, half to an
unknown man, and I cried with a fist, yours, in my

Huong Huynh


On Miracles 

My dad is lying in the hospital 
with tubes stuck in him, and 

You ask if I'd pray
I want to tell you

I believe in miracles, but
I believe in miracles that

Wear their hair in ponytails
The ones that takes nine months 

And some thirty years, but 
Your voice is nearly sincere, so

I kneel at the side of Dad's bed
With his hill of a belly over me

Ten months before, I 
Wore the belly

My dad had told me -- LEAVE, and 
I kissed his cheeks in the dark

With my years
With you, my new man

But, I had missed him then ...

Hang-Nga Nguyen