Thursday, November 04, 2010

Bad Field

            phem teb ces phem ib cim
(bad field only lasts one season)

Red for sale signs appear on many properties. Homes
abandoned and foreclosed, people are moving back

into cramped apartments or smaller, older houses.
Young Hmong are left looking at one another

and themselves in the mirror with bafflement.
Older Hmong who lived in shanties of sticks,

drank from wells dug next to shit holes,
crossed the Mekong with only the clothes they wore,

fought for useless mountaintops year in year out,
farmed precarious mountain slopes year by year, know.

They know a bad field this year
can be discarded for better prospects,

silvers bars hidden under bamboo bed
can be abandoned, stacks of kip around the waist

can be deadly anchors crossing rivers; they know
next year may be worse, or better.

Just this morning, the abandoned house at the corner
is newly occupied—front lawn freshly tilled,

reseeded with grass, just waiting for rain.

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