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Around a pool of sorghum
thief ants lower their mouths and twitch in the feed
each animal growing by
accretion, vote by
vote, the theory of seconds increasing
until the clock starts over—
the paycheck; DNA.
How long until the rice is ready?
How long has the rice been ready?
I feel my hair growing and know not what it means.
When we drove across train tracks, I threw my arms
across my brother’s lap to absorb shock.
The question remains: Which of us had
the best life?
I can’t be sure
but this will sting, I said
when I held my mother
and put my brother’s hand
back beside his body.
The ants move closer
closer and closer.
The ants move into my camera and move on.
The ants move into my head
I taste the ants I swallow the ants
could have woven around my mouth
like a room
a woman still
burying herself pulling off the world
like fly’s wings:
between sugar stores is grief.
I belong to a club that gets salt each month
from a sea I’ve never inhabited.
My mother scattered his ashes into the sea
and each night I draw a bath
with ashes from incense. The real sea:
a sound with music and water.
In the future
is it possible to alter the half-lives of isotopes?
I cannot see the future
for myself or any of my doubles
but I see the days ahead of him.
Surely it cannot go on much longer, this desert oasis.
Surely it cannot go on much longer, this desert
in which the jet black
inkwell of my eye
spills, staining the ants who come to see.
Diana Khoi Nguyen is currently a PhD candidate in creative writing at the University of Denver. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Poetry, American Poetry Review, PEN America and The Iowa Review.
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