That All, Everyone, Each in Being

- 1981-

Decades I have waited                to make sunlight 
for all of this to                             matter, a mark built to 
rest and a mark laid                     living. I am sworn 
to my worth even                         when the scales weep 
their own little swords,                slanting outside 
the song and full                          of soothing to speak each 
vowel. Everything                        happens toward its own 
making, an infinite                       becoming from all that 
is yet to be faced.                        When it seemed 
as though I had touched              the arm of love, 
little did I know,                            I had found a door 
with which to                                enter the sky. And to         
the sky, little did I                         know, the door would 
open for me. All,                          as it will be, as it should be, 
in effort of                                     The Great Balance. 
Five days ago, I stood                  under a flight of egrets, 
shifting between fenced               field of mud and factory 
yard. What could                          they have guessed of stability, 
a fairness of wings, restoring      what had always been 
theirs to have.                              Like them, I have 
steeped myself with                      others, for so long my roots 
sprouting from the cloud            of this fight, daring to follow 
where the arrow leads,                until it is my turn. 
Until now,                                     my turn. 

More by Mai Der Vang

Water Grave

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.

Yellow Rain

First, the sting
in your nose.

Then in your eyes,
a furnace flared

To hollow
your face.

Flies above
your empty sockets.

Maggots made
your split skin.

Another cow dies
from breathing

as you swallowed
from the same air.

How many days before
it wintered you gray

in this wilderness turned
makeshift-graveyard.

How many hours
before the lesions,

before your vomit
hardens the earthen

floor. Somewhere
a house ages cold,

no longer warmed
by the hearth

you once tended.
No one lights

any spirit money.
No one chants the way.

I Am the Whole Defense

Mid-1700s, Southwestern China

Lightning is the creature who carries a knife.

Two months now,
The rains hold watch.

Statues bury in teak
Smeared with old egret’s blood.

I feel the pulse of this inferno,
Tested by the hour to know

That even torches must not waver.

In the garrison, I teach boulders
To trickle from the cliff.

My fallen grow parchment from their hair,

Calligraphy descends
From their lips.

Infantry attack
But my musket knows.

They scale the sides
Yet I tear the rocks.

I am not wife, but my name is Widow.

Let them arrive 
To my ready door,
The earth I’ve already dug.