Submitted by Renee Ya:
I hope that one day, we not only get a day, or a month, or an entry in a history book for our contributions to the US during the Vietnam War, but that we are appreciated as individuals and our contributions to society as a whole.
I wanted to post a poem that I had written back in 2007 that I feel encompasses what it means to be Hmong American.
Lost Spirit Aflutter
“From a high mountain, across a vast ocean,
Into a deep valley, my spirit has flown with me,”
My grandmother continues, “But when you fall, it will leave.
It will go back to the land of ancestors.”
I listen to my grandmother as she lays in her bed,
A single flickering light illuminates the room with an orange glow
As she has my hand embraced tightly,
intertwined into hers, and a tear rolls down her cheek.
“My young child, your grandma has lost her soul.”
In most cases, with ua neeb ritual a shaman
Would get onto his spiritual horse, and ride into the land of ancestors,
Offering a pig’s heart to exchange for her heart
But in a Christian household, where Shamanism is pagan worship,
Where bamboos do not line the roof from threshold to alter;
A spirit line drawn to guide our ancestors;
How will the spirit know where to go?
There are no paper money boats to sail the offerings
Into the land that is cold and long forgotten.
There are no halved bull horns to clang or bells to ring
To call my grandmother’s spirit back.
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