The Boiler

Mai Der Vang

UNTIL NOWHERE

Go until there’s no more galaxy,
Until all the going is given

And I touch green as sneeze,
Always cranberry, a crow upstairs.

All I have to do is clutch
This hour’s pulse, then flee

The palace mad as honeymoon
After the king gives me back

My history in a homesick bowl.
Sign hello fox. Hello silhouette.

Go suck a cough drop in my
Sleep to wake my throat.

Go eat a penny to feed
Economies fat and steep.

Go until there’s no more road,
Until landing at winter’s dust,

The fog’s flame, pleated,
Lips of an unkissed book.

DIADEM ON LINED PAPER

After Reina/Madonna, art of Martín Ramírez

I saw you first as a man
Whoe left arm was the brand of a tree,
Your frail stretch

No thicker than fingers on a gingko,
A body
      Meant for downfall.

But then you turned over
And became a tree
Whose branches were the arms of a queen,

Spanning before me
Like a bridge, earthen silk,
Consanguinity,
                Love that works
                Without a thumb

I took to you to my birth,
My almond song, chrysanthemums
Spun into corona and gold.
Before morning, I gave you the memory of blossoms,
                                                 Carried your scapular weight.

You learned me, I did not write,
But my hand did,
I did not walk, but my feet did. 

When fire set itself
To expired sleepless nights,
I uprooted you from a grave

                           To mark myself mourned.


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Mai Der Vang, a first-generation Hmong American poet, has published poems in the Collagist (forthcoming), the Lantern Review, the Journal of Southeast Asian American Education & Advancement, and Paj Ntaub Voice. Her poems have been anthologized in Troubling Borders: An Anthology of Art and Literature by Southeast Asian Women in the Diaspora (University of Washington Press, 2013) and How Do I Begin: A Hmong American Literary Anthology (Heyday, 2011) where she served on the editorial board of the Hmong American Writers’ Circle. She has completed residencies at Hedgebrook and is a fellow of Kundiman. She is an MFA candidate in poetry at Columbia University.