i don’t know the word for depression in vietnamese (Kimberly Nguyen)

i don’t know the word for depression in vietnamese

but it should be somewhere between blue and purple.
it should be a quantity of red, or the difference
between purple(tím) and heart(tim)
the absence of a diacritic mark.

i think there’s a reason sadness in my mother tongue
sounds like a sigh that’s been held a while.
i am the eldest daughter of an eldest daughter
i eat the blame and send back forgiveness.
i turn the day into something worthy.

for a whole semester, i turned in love songs
and my professor said there must be life
beyond my crush — a trivial thing.

i cannot tell my mother that i am homesick.
a silence of misunderstanding descending between us.
we do not understand the same way
what it means to go home, what it means to be a daughter.

tell me what you know of trivial things.


Kimberly Nguyễn is an emerging Vietnamese-American poet currently living in Brooklyn, NY. Her poems can be found in diaCRITICS, Meniscus Literary Journal, and perhappened mag and are forthcoming in Muzzle Magazine. She is a recipient of a Beatrice Daw Brown Prize for Poetry, and she is a Best of the Net nominee. You can find her on InstagramTwitter and her website.