By Kaylah Nguyen
Infection and disease spreading like a wildfire
Lucky were those to survive
Only the clothes on their backs to their names
Corpses surrounding, outnumbering the few dollars they possessed
"Đi một ngày đàng học một sàng khôn"
"A day of travelling will bring a basket full of learning."
A transition to an unfamiliar environment
Will aid in gaining knowledge and prosperity
"Việc hôm nay chớ để ngày mai"
"Make hay while the sun shines."
Work until you are breathless
Merely for a drop of fresh water
On that parched tongue of yours
Was probably what my Ông and Mê were thinking when wasting away,
Mowing lawns to build lives for their children
And after their depart
Forced from home, leaving behind the terrors of war for America
Where new struggles would await
The same country I took pride in, Vietnam, as well as my ancestors and family Was war-ridden and torn to shreds
This country, our America, is economically a pyramid
Built on the backs of refugees and immigrants such as my grandparents
The gold engraved on their warm skin from the sun after working lengthy and difficult hours under the sun
As if exemplifying the star on their flag
The red on mother's face
Depicting that of her flag
Hot with embarrassment and shame
An effect brought about
Following the whispers and echoes of slurs in her ears
By young peers and pupils
who unfortunately didn't know any better
Childhood and adolescence solely spent caring for several brothers, younger and older I am blessed to have her eyes
The same ones that traveled from our home country to America, carried out through generations
With the same glow
And passionate fire hoping for a brighter future
That I sometimes reproduce, when sharing the same passion
I am blessed to have her eyes
That cause me to inevitably reminisce, bring me back to the smell of Mê's cooking, and Ông's freshly cut grass, both now decreased
Because I don't have the eyes of just my family, because they are more
I have the eyes of warriors.
Description/Why I Choose This Topic: This poem brings light to the experiences and hardships that refugees might have faced, particularly the experiences that my mother and her family endured during their time as refugees during the Vietnam war in Thailand refugee camps during the 80's. Significant issues in camps were disease, malnutrition, and starvation amongst theVietnamese. Mentions of the Vietnamese flag, as well as old Vietnamese proverbs were mentioned in this piece just to add creative snippets of cultural elements into it. My heart goes out to all refugees, may you find prosperity and good health soon enough.
https://www-mprnews-org.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.mprnews.org/amp/story/2017/04/17/after-the-viet nam-war-refugees-struggled-for-survival?amp_js_v=a6&_gsa=1&usqp=mq331AQHKAFQArABIA %3D%3D#aoh=16200635984896&referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com&_tf=From%20%2 51%24s&share=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.mprnews.org%2Fstory%2F2017%2F04%2F17%2Fafter-the -vietnam-war-refugees-struggled-for-survival