In all sacred words

by Tam Nguyen

In all sacred words,
I hear: a chance,
when you say: you are lucky to
be here and not a miscarriage, meaning I had
brothers and sisters before me, whose
names I never get to know.
But what I do know: we came out of the
same womb, and I was alive.
You pray every night. I listen to all of it.
There must be too many died
before us that you decide to just group
them as ông bà and đất tổ. You leave
out the dead children.
do you see it?
You ask for blessings from ones we
have forgotten, and still, you close your eyes,
as if not seeing would help.
kneeling is what we do to pray,
but also what we do before surrender.
I kneeled and almost surrendered the life you gave
me, which as a fetus: I couldn’t speak and was
surrounded by water: how I felt trying
to pick the words for ‘homosexual’ and ‘your son’,
how they always circled back to my name –
only found by ransacking a drawer I left on
my verses, burning, as if in today’s ash rises
a tomorrow – a tomorrow you’d find
my poems like songs heard by pressing
a forehead onto another forehead, and that
our eyes closing means: I’m ready to give
you one more chance—I’m ready to give
you one more chance to be born
and not sacred.


Tam Nguyen is a Vietnamese poet/multimedia artist, born and raised on the south end of Vietnam. He’s currently an undergraduate in Arts and History at Fulbright University Vietnam. His works appeared and art forthcoming on Heavy Feather Review, SOFTBLOW, Quail Bell Magazine, and elsewhere.