Ficus Carica Sonnet
Cinched belt tugged tight around the heart 5 or 6 aerial roots dangling A strangler fig Do homeless ancestors live inside the tree? Child of noise Hold the loosened ends You may miss the moon or fall in love with it Embrace ashes I too am far removed A thirst that wanders thirsting And I could never ask the name of the boy who died A baby boy who died but what could you do and maybe words hang in sinew and care Writer of dead words or living words and life's hammer Encase the host tree and erase it I don't know the folk songs on farms far from here The dead buried and gone To dig the grave Who dug the graves Darling The sea widens for you tonight and deepens
Copyright © 2018 by Hoa Nguyen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 6, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
“I wrote this sonnet at Tet 2018 while visiting Vietnam for the first time since leaving the country as a young child. It was inspired by walks around the Old Quarter of Hanoi as I considered aspects of memory, lore, events, diaspora, inheritance, distance, and rupture. The poem was also born from my appreciation of venerated trees adorned with incense and other offerings for Tet as appeals to ancestors, wronged ghosts, or wandering spirits.”