Illustration by Jason Arias.


Maybe you spiked the dirt
With your snare of shivers.

You watched lemongrass
Retreat into the parasols,

Discarded this jungle into
The cinema of forgetting.

You’ve been lying again.

Maybe you knew the venom
Had been painted, that it

Slipped beneath torn
Umbrellas, smothering all

Touch as a vapor buffet.
Honestly. A curse as this

Is a tribunal for the late
Uncles, the bemoaned first

Sons. How you must have
Felt embassy-like, diminishing

A species of servicemen for
An administration of wasps.

Mai Der Vang

Mai Der Vang is the author of Afterland (Graywolf Press), which received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Virginia Quarterly Review, New Republic, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.