Type II

Ignoring the doctor’s red call
                    I swam in the molasses-thick swamp
          of my indulgence, allowed the sugar to ruin

the picnic. The lawn beneath me humming
                    with little invaders.
          There are conditions if one insists

on knowing the secrets of my blood.
                    I know it’s hard to gaze at the night sky
          speckled white & not wish upon

the dead light, but I ask only for your laughter.
                    I ask for all the ways I can remain
          whole & not a vision with missing limbs.

Look at the trees blistering with sap. Goddamnit
                    look at me! Look at me in the old way
          in this new light.

Once I loved a boy, who feared, so much
                    his own sickness
          I never confessed to him my own.

Afraid he would turn, with his worry, my smile
                    into a knife—into a scythe
          covered in ants.

From Not Here (Coffee House Press, 2018). Copyright © 2018 by Hieu Minh Nguyen. Used with the permission of Coffee House Press.