In this except of this is for mẹ, Tuyet Duong sends a letter into time and space for a baby loved and lost.
Inspired by Ocean’s Vuong’s letter to his mother in the New York Times, this is for mẹ lives online as a borderless mailbox for Asian identified people to share stories rooted in mothers, motherhood, motherlands, mother-tongues and family.
Dear Sweet Baby
Dear Sweet Baby,
I thought of you last night.
Your memory hit me with
A pierce and an ache,
And I sobbed longingly for you. Deep belly crying,
The kind that howls.
Three years ago today
I found out that after 13 weeks of carrying you,
I had lost you. You disappeared along the way –
My tiny, lit, moon soul eclipsed by the earth.
There was a day when I was truly hollowed. On that day, I planted gladiolas in the front yard
— for you.
They just flowered last year.
Your older brother is Anh Hai (the first one).
Your younger brother is Anh Thu (the third one).
You will always be my little Baby Ba (the second one).
A Seer says I will have four children, so that
Must mean there is one more to carry.
But I will never forget you,
The feeling of carrying your light
Glows within my heart,
Like a lotus torch –
Tuyet was born in Oklahoma, after her parents resettled to the American Midwest as refugees from Vietnam. She then lived in Louisiana and Texas during her childhood and formative years. Tuyet has a passion for movement and dance and studied piano for over 7 years. She wrote poetry in high school and college, and is now trying to reboot that side of her brain and heart. Otherwise, Tuyet was trained as an immigration and human rights attorney, employed at various nonprofits and government agencies for the last decade, mostly developing policy and pushing systems change in various sectors. She now resides in Seoul, Korea, with her three sons, mother-in-law, and diplomat partner – with a desire to explore and connect with Asian and Vietnamese diasporic artists, writers, dancers, community-builders, and policy wonks on this side of the Pacific. She currently serves as Chief Partnerships Officer at a global public relations and consulting firm DAWN. You can follow her Instagram @twiggles242.