who told the child that one
can grow old without a god

t. tran le

a contrapuntal in post-traumatic stress disorder

                                                                                         the portrait of my nighttime

                                                                                         is hung by a carnivorous moon           

 

consider this rosary                                                     pink & plastic bead(s)

slide along a once white                                             now browned

cord                                                                                 is it grotesque

 

to find comfort                        

                                                                                         in knowing

there are traces

of my childhands in the fibers                                  the crucifix is dented from nails & teeth

pressed & misshapen                                                  by daydreaming

today I am decades                                                      

& miles away

 

from traveling this length by prayer                       everyday at 4PM

our small bodies piled                                                onto Bà Nội’s bed

                                                                                         I remember the urgency

 

of this Vietnamese                                          

my first songs                                                               echo

                                                                                         from something distant

 

                                                                                         When I was young                                                      

I watched my mother skin fruit                                              

with such exactness                                                    I was reminded she could kill me

in my sleep                                                                   clinical

precise                                                                           no trace of me left behind

 

I saw it happen                                                            in the unending darkness of every night

hairs in my ears like insect legs                               sticking to every moving decibel

 

my inkwell eyes unblinking                           

 

breath                                                             

a vapor

                                                                                         above the slit of my mouth

 

I counted the clicks of each door                              in the house

                                                                                         It is not an impossible terror:              

                                                                                         my mother

the assassin

                                                                                         twirling apples like globes in her left palm      

shedding entire orbs

 

I’ve memorized the way

                                                                                         her forearm moves                  

                                                                                         (& how)

the muscles lie

the shapes they take in a limb                                   the whole of my life

                                                                                         marked by my mother’s moving body

 

                                                                                         It’s true

I have been think a lot about                                     the divine

                                                                                         I can see both

 

my grandmothers

in figures of alphabets                                                

                                                                                         I hear their lips smack

 

delivering

tones chants arias                                                        

                                                                                         sweeping over my face

                                                                                         & I see my mother                                          

                                                                                         shaving a fleshy thing

in one continuous rotation

t. tran le is a poet from Texas currently living in Brooklyn, NY with their 3 cats & spouse. They are a Brooklyn Poets Spring 2019 Fellow & you can find more of their work published or forthcoming in Kweli Journal & 8 Poems.

 
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