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About this Poem 

This poem was published as part of Writing from the Absence: Voices of Hmong American Poets, a five-part series curated by 2016 Walt Whitman winner Mai Der Vang that highlights a small community of Hmong American poets whose voices enrich and bring greater diversity to the literary landscape of this country. 

In Mother’s Garden

Quietly now a mouse in the garden
that has come to mourn with me
or bite at every insect twisting
in this heat as you lie close & uncaring
in the army of the common housefly.
Let it be known that in death
you harrowed in love & in so doing
traded your ears for blackened ones,
your crown the shade of a new moon.
Let this spell be known as the fortune
of a missing tortoise, brutal limbs
& wounds of multiples. Then, to soften
alongside the watermelon rinds
on this blighted day, your body
presently absent including the mouse
I have startled into darkness. Who will
help me love the castor bean tree now?
Which of these plants will speak for you?

Ignore me while I weave between rows,
swatting at the light I have chased into
the corner of your makeshift shed still full
of your fortune, the abundant secret
of mouse droppings. Meanwhile, stay
dressed—help me be decent. Come away
from dreams, far from streets—quick,
arise in one piece! There is shade.
Even the sun could not spoil you.
 

Copyright © 2017 by Khaty Xiong. Used with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2017 by Khaty Xiong. Used with permission of the author.

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.