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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 27, 2017.
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

Heavy

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.

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

Hieu Minh Nguyen

Hieu Minh Nguyen

Hieu Minh Nguyen is the author of Not Here (Coffee House Press, forthcoming in 2018). 

by this poet

poem

No matter where we go, there’s a history
of white men describing a landscape

so they can claim it. I look out the window
& I don’t see a sunset, I see a man’s

pink tongue razing the horizon.
I once heard a man describe the village

in Vietnam where my family comes

poem

Ignoring the doctor’s red call
                    I swam in the molasses-thick swamp
          of my indulgence, allowed the sugar to ruin

the picnic. The lawn beneath me humming
                    with little invaders.
          There are conditions if one insists

on knowing the

poem

For the longest time, the only memories I had
of that year were of Little Billy from the third floor, floating
dead in the pool & how angry the rest of the tenants were
when they drained & filled it with cement
& how that summer, the unbearable heat dragged its endless skin