My mother’s favorite story, a dull one, of course— 
            is that she did not scream during my birth, 
instead dug her nails into her sister’s wrist, severing
            a vein, and killing her—I’m only joking. 
She lived. I did say this was her favorite story after all.


               They say if the mother is silent
               during birth, then the child will grow
               up without the ability to smell or decipher 
               maps, but will indeed grow up.

               They say if the baby is born silent, 
               then it’s probably a faggot, or dead, 
               or will be eventually.


He was a stupid child. Ate dirt they said. Ate glass 
and people’s wallets. Kept a farm of cigarette butts 
in his cheeks. Smelled like a highway,

but sounded like a boy.
Stood on the overpass and swore 
he could hear her screaming.

From This Way to the Sugar (Write Bloody Publishing, 2014) by Hieu Minh Nguyen. Copyright © 2014 by Hieu Minh Nguyen. Used with the permission of the author.