Souvenirs for My Daughters


After the deliverance*, we do a head count,
tallying up who are left.
Zero for births during the Khmer Rouge regime; minuses for
- cousins, - aunts, - uncles, - grandmother, and
- my parents.

What is left is not much after the reunion.
In all of our family,
there are twenty-one survivors,
who’d sustained the ordeals. Of nine aunts and uncles,
my mother’s brothers and sisters,
four sisters escaped
the starvation
and the execution.

Twenty-one alive. More than half
of my aunts, uncles, and first cousins were killed.
Whatever rose from three generations was almost wiped-out.
What hope is left is very small
while our country is still in turmoil.

Every day,
We live in fear
That the Khmer Rouge will return to finish us off.

Every day,
We live with hunger.
Day to day, we plot ways to get food.

Every day,
Uncertainties are still there.

*deliverance – the Vietnamese invasion in late 1978 and early 1979 drove the Khmer Rouge/Pol-Pot’s people from power, saving us from the starvation and the executions.

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