No matter where we go, there’s a history
of white men describing a landscape
so they can claim it. I look out the window
& I don’t see a sunset, I see a man’s
pink tongue razing the horizon.
I once heard a man describe the village
in Vietnam where my family comes from.
It was beautiful
a poem I would gift my mother
but somewhere in the pastoral I am reminded
a child (recently) was blown apart
after stepping on a mine, a bulb, I guess
blooming forty years later—
maybe it was how the poet said dirt
or maybe it was how he used fire
to describe the trees.
From Not Here (Coffee House Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Hieu Minh Nguyen. Used with the permission of Coffee House Press.