Souvenirs for My Daughters


So much within

my core rattles. So much noise
jammed inside my head. My thoughts quarrel.
My heart drums. A rhythm beat so loud;
its bass strumming on my temples.
Then, outside it is just a blur. My sisters’ talking gurgle
like mouths full of water. The drone of the cicadas
pull like voices through tubing
reminding me of a graveyard at night.

I try to blur pass the clutter. I concentrate
hard on the importance.
But, the more I focus on the outside, the more
the spirits kept inside
my head want out. With each new shriek,
they leak out. A circle of death above my head.

As time wears, my twitchy nerves make attempts to leap
out of my throat. I want to scream for her to come back.
So loud that my own voice shocks my head to silence.
But, I cannot say what is in my head, afraid that it will jinx
all thoughts into real events.
I keep silent as a show of strength,
for us three (aged 9, 7, and 3). A stir in the dark is followed
by a stir inside.

Our talks are small. Then, things converge on my middle sister’s reply,
maybe they killed her.
It is like a static shock caught unaware. Sparks pop
in my head. Nerves snap. And, heat radiates
through my body. Again, she pushes,
maybe they killed her.
“Don’t say that,” I chide her, adding strength to each word
to ward off any truth of death
of those words. My voice is hoarse – a stranger at my ears,
a boy’s voice at puberty.
Then, I screech like a girl again,
“it’s a bad omen.”

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