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7.19: Nguyen, Hieu Minh. "The Study" and "White Boy Time Machine: Override" (2018)

  • Page ID
    40467
  • The Study

    For the longest time, the only memories I had

    of that year were of Little Billy from the third floor,

    floating

    dead in the pool & how angry the rest of the tenants

    were 5

    when they drained & filled it with cement

    & how that summer, the unbearable heat dragged its

    endless skin

    across our bones — memory is the funniest character in

    this story: 10

    when I think of that year, no one has a face — the first

    memory

    I had of being molested did not come until nine years

    later.

    At first I thought it was a dream, a movie, white noise 15

    summoning a narrative through the static — if it's true

    what they say about memory being a series of rooms

    then behind some locked door: a wicked apothecary: her

    fingers

    trapped in jars, her hair growing like wild vines along 20

    the walls.

    Somewhere in this story I am nine years old

    filling the loud hollows with cement to down out the

    ghost.

    They say, give us details, so I give them my body. 25

    They say, give us proof, so I give them my body.

    If you cut me open, if you dissect me you will pull from

    me:

    a pair of handprints, a nine-year-old boy, fossilized.

    White Boy Time Machine: Override

    No matter where we go, there's a history

    of white men describing a landscape

    so they can claim it. I look out the window

    & I don't see a sunset, I see a man's

    pink tongue razing the horizon. 5

    I once heard a man describe the village

    in Vietnam where my family comes from.

    It was beautiful

    a poem I would gift my mother

    but somewhere in the pastoral I am reminded 10

    a child (recently) was blown apart

    after stepping on a mine, a bulb, I guess

    blooming forty years later—

    maybe it was how the poet said dirt

    or maybe it was how he used fire 15

    to describe the trees.

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