Interrogation in a Nail Salon

[How long have you been here?]

                             From the airplane window, she saw dragon’s eyes
                             floating to sheeny green mangrove feet
                             its scales a rainbow mirror
                             dancing light on her mother’s mud wall
                             Time found its way onto the skin of roofs
                             she wondered if home remembered
                             or how it sheltered on the
                            crumbling field.

[I don’t know your place. What does it look like?]

                                                Her mother’s hair: the white river
                                                Her eyes: the blurred pearls blinking
                                                on heart-lace, staring plumy red nails
                                                crafted waggling American flags

                                                Mekong indulged infant cries, feeding
                                                shining sesban flowers and bitter gourds
                                                Children grew into wandering duckweeds,
                                                intertwining themselves in laughter of joys

                                                The sky was close from Forbidden Mountain
                                                The Goddess sowed brown-eyed seeds
                                                giant tamarind tree cuddled the clouds
                                                little humans played hide-and-seek

                                                A child slips into the mud mouth.

[Do you want to marry someone and get a Green Card?]

                        Her tiny nipples
                        wiped out
                        a flood of silence

                        Wedding grew thorns on
                        woven green coconut gate
                        burning purple on periwinkle blooms

                        Her body melted
                        flinching McDonald’s yellow sign
                        cloudy face powder, acetone, nail polish
                        Phở broth boiled down particles of her night.

[I know a man, good person, you can marry him.]

                                           She saw herself in the mirror in the corner
                                           toilet of the restaurant at midnight in the
                                           chlorine cloud hallucinating her cracked
                                           fingers. She hid her hands in the janitor
                                           uniform pocket so that any man couldn’t see
                                           how her face was fading into the storm of
                                           keratin dust—spinning manicure drill.

[Don’t worry, nobody knows about your past here.]

                                                    Answer: Do you know a service to change bones?

                                                    Her past was carved in them
                                                    singing through rainy nights
                                                    flood season, weeping herons
                                                    The Plain of Reeds whined
                                                    through teeth mark of rice.

[Do you send a lot of money home?]

                                          Her mother sighed.


                             A hostage of borders picked shards of memory
                             and called it home.