• Flux Magazine

"White Rice & others" by Anh-Tho Antoinette Thi Nguyen

White Rice

Ba, can you cook some rice? 

the al dente way like the Italians do

don't put too much water

we don't have to run away anymore

we can let it sit overnight and eat it tomorrow too

the spirits are dancing tonight, Ba

they're mingling in smoke clouds up to the ceiling

why do they have to leave us, Ba?

I want them to come for dinner at least

and eat with us one last time

and stay here forever.


Bedtime Story

Wipe those black-smeared tears from the bottom of your eyelids

your extended eyelashes are sticking to your cheeks

you can cry on my shoulder for as long as you'd like

in the morning, everything will be fine

they'll pick up,

and give you good news

mother and father will look you in the eye and say they are proud of you

I swear

you've done your duty

you've paid your debts

don't worry

those fairy stories immigrant parents tell their children at bedtime

are not true.

Ground Teeth

She keeps grinding her

teeth at night.

Clench,

smash tooth to tooth,

incisor to incisor, never

slack-jawed 

always on edge. 

Her teeth will

have dents by

morning - tiny bullet

holes, jagged mountains

on the tips of her

pearly whites. 

They don't fracture, they

bruise, wear down

slowly, quietly erode

underneath the ocean.

Sand caught by a

nameless oyster,

kept there,

until it sheens with a sweet 

'Come hither.' 

I've never seen it broken, 

simply worn, damaged.

Soft, soft white

roundish and gleaming.



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