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Lineage

 

 
 
 
I.
 
Here is a gravel road, Việt Nam. Here are patches of tropic
grass that line the road, & within them leaves that rattle
 
like saltshakers. Here is your home, fences of bamboo tied together
in black arches, & above them roofs of damp thatch that drip
 
to the sleeping bodies below. Here are doors so blood-warm
you can see handprints, the air’s breath a hollowed white.
 
II.
 
Children in a swarm. Rickshaws drop like fly’s eggs,
their drivers resting in a sweat-smoked ease. Outside, the churchyard
 
sycamores howl, & inside, you hold tight onto your sister’s hand,
pray one day to be on the other side of the Pacific,
 
in America, your body bowed like a bowstring. Overhead,
God throws stars like knives. Finches glisten in & out of moonlight.
 
III.
 
We kneel in pews together every Sunday in Houston
suburbia. You count dreams like feathers plucked
 
from quail’s underbelly. I count fluorescent lights on the ceiling
& ask myself how much darker the room would be with
 
one singed. We listen to a sermon on faith, & I calculate
its equivalent in miles, the size of another ocean to cross.
 
 
 

Thomas Nguyen is a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied neuroscience and creative writing. He is currently completing the MS in Narrative Medicine program at Columbia University and hopes to pursue an MFA in poetry afterward. His work is forthcoming or published in the Bellevue Literary Review, Rust + Moth, DIALOGIST, and Intima, among other journals.