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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

And begging,

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.

Source Used: nam-war-refugees-struggled-for-survival?amp_js_v=a6&amp_gsa=1&usqp=mq331AQHKAFQArABIA %3D%3D#aoh=16200635984896& 51%24s& -vietnam-war-refugees-struggled-for-survival


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