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Featured Writer: Tran Quynh Nguyen

Updated: Jun 13, 2021

Fish-bone braids

When my mom tied the knot, she did it in fish-bone braids

Those of brave and burnt colors, mossing over her protruding spine,

Her white dress sweeping the kitchen floor, in her hands a flower-scrub cleaning dishes

The belly counted watermelon summers my dad has sliced through.

Against the dark sky, she gazed stars of mosquitos, caressing each one of them

Securing the sweetest sleep for my sister and I.

At dinner table, we chewed her dreams, cut in half and braised with fish sauce in claypot,

devouring her caramelized reprimands,

drinking her marinated tears around honeycomb charcoal stove.

Now everyday before school, she still ties us,

Brave and burnt fish-bone braids, rough like her hands, patting on our backs.

Tattered lines

ten, twelve, fourteen - on every even year, my mom bought me

cherry red jeans, their tight crotches like hands punching upwards.

on my sixteenth birthday, she thrust in my hands, behind closed doors

a red cocktail dress that barely touched my knees,

its sleeves like butterfly wings fluttering in the air, my pubic hair its antenna,

soaring through the sky before it gets dark and i would have to change into:

the blouse stitched by my dad’s will, folding between creases were his well-wishes

for me to marry and iron silk clothes for a strangerman,

but i always grow out of it - in my dreams i tatter its wool lines, one

that leads to another, but mom is always kind enough to patch them up-

even when under closed wool, my open wounds

are still watered and pruned, they turn into scars.

Tran Quynh Nguyen is a junior at Hanoi-Amsterdam High School for the Gifted in Hanoi, Vietnam. Her work is not forthcoming anywhere since she is a newbie to this publishing thing but she has written poetry for most of her life and is an upcoming participant in Sewanee Young Writer's Conference.

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