Published on Academy of American Poets (


The narrow clearing down to the river
I walk alone, out of breath

my body catching on each branch.
Small children maneuver around me.

Often, I want to return to my old body
a body I also hated, but hate less

given knowledge.
Sometimes my friends—my friends

who are always beautiful & heartbroken
look at me like they know

I will die before them.
I think the life I want

is the life I have, but how can I be sure?
There are days when I give up on my body

but not the world. I am alive.
I know this. Alive now

to see the world, to see the river
rupture everything with its light.


Copyright © 2017 by Hieu Minh Nguyen. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 27, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“The poem is about the little moments of love I have for the world, but also my body, which allows me to attend the world.”
—Hieu Minh Nguyen


Hieu Minh Nguyen

Hieu Minh Nguyen is a queer, Vietnamese American poet and the author of Not Here (Coffee House Press, 2018). 

Date Published: 2017-01-27

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