When they were young and less defeated by hardship, mummy and father would host many parties, a party every weekend.
On the record player spun pre-Pol Pot Khmer pop songs while dancing bare feet polished the hardwood floor. A formidable invading army, the grandmothers occupied one cigarette-smoke hazy corner, where they played poker and chugged cognac, Hennessy, of course, terrorizing babies with their gold-toothed laughter. From the humid enclosure of the kitchen issued the lemongrass fragrance of curries simmering and the cluck-cluck-clucking of mothers as they shooed their wayward children, daughters and sons, all cousins /by blood or not/ whose fists were wrapped tight around sugarcane, their laughter like a secret untied.
go away, baby, go play a game
blind men was a game we made up/or maybe learned/how do we learn these games?/a game that had us running in the dark, giggling under towels or blankets, banging into objects suddenly without names/was that a wall? a lamp? another body?/trying to catch each other, arms outstretched.
here I am! can you find me?
what a subtle terror/will i be caught? / in that child-made darkness/a thrilling terror /can you feel your heart beating fast and faster?/ of the darkness that we made/hands fluttering/feet kicking/objects smashing/laughter disconnected/can you find me? me? /a cry, unfurling/me?/a flurry of noises without meaning/what was that? /me?/the bodies, small and tender, writhing in and out of capture/who's next?