Sharing two works by Hmong American poet and professor Soul Vang today. Thank you, Soul, for giving me permission!
Learning to Eat the Kumquat
by Soul Vang
I planted the tree out of curiosity
the year we moved to this new house,
two years after our older son was born
with frontal cortex injury, one year
before our second son was diagnosed
with autism spectrum disorder.
I first planted it in the shade
under the grape arbor, then transplanted it
the next year to the far side of the yard,
where each year it has grown more bushy
and bore more and more of its brilliant yellow
pearls that we would try to eat-- peeling
the orange skin, eating the acid pulp.
Each time we would spit it out in sour
perplexity--how could anyone eat
of such a fruit? It wasn't until this year
that we learned to properly eat the fruit
from some wise friends who came to visit.
You see, the way to eat the kumquat
is to pick it off the tree, rinse it
in clear water, roll the fruit gently
between thumb and index finger
to mix the sweet and the bitter juices,
pop it in the mouth and bite through peel
and pulp, swallowing the whole.
by Soul Vang
Running in the bike lane
three miles done, two
to go. My lungs labor
to take in the oxygen
tainted by cars
brushing by within a foot.
It would be so easy
to stop--just one step
to the right. But
then I am distracted
by a bunch of low-hanging grapes,
that had escaped picking
machines and human hands,
living on into winter,
How Do I Begin: A Hmong American Literary Anthology, which includes work by Soul Vang.
Keri has our Poetry Friday round-up today.
You can find my "Thirteen Ways of Looking at Emma" at Reflections on the Teche.