Published on Academy of American Poets (

The Seven Prisms of My Blood

after Yvan Goll

In the absent oils of your eyes two brown ores
resting leisurely on the view of your children.

You uncoil casually. My hand slipping
to the west and what was felled fills me

until I fall forward injuring your already dead arm.
I am so sorry. Our wills in a twist. Electric.

Some pulse between the gurney and the distant coffin.
My camera shutter clicking wildly around my neck.

Back home tus rab hlau searches for your hands.
The soil to harden. Rapture on the way. Onions

sprouting passionately as neglected gardens do.
The seven prisms of my blood bursting through my ears.

Your living children still living. Your garden goddess
drying the last goods in her shrine. With spring-like

precision the sun weeps until I boil. My head cracked
in four places. The ribbed earth catching fatal drops

of your blood or mine. You beseech me but in my time
I’ve slept away the sun. The underside of distance.

But I behold you now in this cool church and for a ransom.
I photograph you again and again. Your form crystalizing.

Your parted mouth a new annex to the ancestral house.
Your bones at the table. O how fair the jaundiced skies.

You get up to close that clear brittle door.


Copyright © 2020 by Khaty Xiong. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on November 10, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem is one of the many memories I have of my mother’s funeral. It was written a year and a half after her sudden death. I was attending MacDowell at the time when I wrote this piece, after just having read Dreamweed by poet Yvan Goll. I was so moved by his poems, which explored death and impending loss. His poems allowed me to tap into my grief, which was still taking shape, which is to say, it was very shapeless and unstable.”
Khaty Xiong


Khaty Xiong

Khaty Xiong is the author of debut collection Poor Anima (Apogee Press, 2015), the first full-length collection of poetry published by a Hmong American woman in the United States.

Date Published: 2020-11-10

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