Notes from a Diaspora
My name is Greek for Lover. Chosen not for meaning but for its phonetic affinity with a name in a language I cannot write. Where I come from, everything has two names. Water, Teuk. Egg, saout. I, khnhom.
The prehistory of Cambodian Americans is transmitted in English, packaged in the form of National Geographic saved by Dad. Watches drawn on Buddhas in ballpoint ink. Enigmatic pyramids of skulls. Crumbling temples embraced, or strangled, by baobab roots. B&W photos of unhappy people
long-dead. Murdered. We know history in our bones, children. The weight of our tears. The fears confessed at night to ghosts looking for rice and insects
to eat in our dreams. The fruit of our childhoods is an unfulfilled wish.