There was a husband-father at one time, distinguished in phrases but not in gestures.
There was a daughter circulating in vain attempts, calculating the usage of efforts,
I’m afraid to say. I had painted her in pearly fabric
amidst the lost husband-father who blew up our foundation
when he sought to line draw the exaggerations in our field: what were perished
actions of the family. I thought to resuscitate it all and my cheeks blew inward.
I was holding all my breath inside. This wasn’t a good idea.

So does this world spring from the imperishable, says The Upanishads.

And led me to ask for a crystalline idiom, because in finding
the daughter, I lost myself. I realized (too late)
I was granted tyranny for all the lost occasions.
My therapist calls this manipulation. I decided to stake its claim.
I will be done now. I knew I was the hat trick for them.
And thus I’m over with the game because the game had since
been done with me—I had no idea until I blew and blew and blew.

Copyright © 2020 by Prageeta Sharma. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on December 28, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

We cross under
the midnight shield
and learn that bullets

can curse the air.
A symposium
of endangered stars

evicts itself to
the water. Another
convoy leaves the kiln.

The crowded dead
turn into the earth’s
unfolded bed sheet.

We drift near banks,
creatures of the Mekong,
heads bobbing like

ghosts without bodies,
toward the farthest shore.
With every treading

soak, the wading leg,
we beg ourselves to live,
to float the mortared

cartilage and burial
tissue in this river yard
of amputated hearts.

This poem originally appeared in American Poets, Spring-Summer 2016. Copyright © 2016 Mai Der Vang. Used with permission of the author.