They filled unmarked graves
with fresh bodies and bullet casings,
unable to comprehend
work, sleep, cry, eat.
How did hunger outweigh danger
as Dad threw rocks at beehives
in the smoke of a crossfire?
Within how many nightmares did Mom find sanctuary in
as she slowly forgot
details of her mother’s face?
They stumbled onto different planes.
They couldn’t translate
Pittsburgh from New Hampshire.
I wondered when they relearned
safety, groceries, income, choice.
Their first house, a statue.
I didn’t worry about security.
I was not allowed to be picky,
or to properly identify nothing.
I learned guests were
forbidden from hotels.
I didn’t care about
a big family until
You should have
published in Ottawa by above/ground press
as part of above/ground press’ thirtieth anniversary
a/g subscribers receive a complimentary copy
Nick Chhoeun earned his MFA in Creative Writing from American University. His work explores themes of identity, culture, and love through an Asian American millennial perspective. As a teacher, he shares his passion for writing with his students at Central Connecticut State University and the University of Hartford. He is a Davis Fellow. Aside from his works in writing, you can find him rocking out with his band Not Freshmen.
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