My mother opens my bedroom
door and gags on the overwhelming scent
of urine, like something died, she says,
in the story that follows me
to every family gathering,
a hound locked on the scent
of a wandering child. It was a phase
my mother said lasted until I was fourteen,
or around the time I started doing my own laundry.
She goes on to tell them about the piles of wet
clothes hidden in the back of my closet,
like something died—again
we all know this story,
a boy gets touched and then ruins
the upholstery, or a boy rubs himself
in the back of the school bus
until his jeans become a shade darker.
I never told my mother I was molested,
never told her that story, the one
where a boy finds a tongue,
ten years later, fermenting
in a jar. I never told her
how someone reached inside me
and turned on all the faucets.
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.