by Thu Nguyen

Click here to view video
of Thu Nguyen reading “Proximity.”

This is a house warmed with worry,
and still, he’s cold all the time under his knit cap and gloves.

She has to put his socks on for him, one at a time,
slip them on in a way that pretends he still has dignity,

that he doesn’t want to just run out the doors,
shirtless and deep brown, and not as tired as he is now.

I have come home to witness this, to pretend
that I can’t see how he is not himself anymore.

We come home because so much meaning
has to do with proximity:

When I was younger, it was too much—unbearable—
the kind of love that makes you move out when you are seventeen.

But now, I think, no one else will ever worry if I am working
too much or too hard, if I leave early in the morning, in the cold dark.

Who will tell me if I am raising the kind of kids who will come home
when I need them, to warm me, to bear witness to me?


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 22, Issue 4.

Thu Anh Nguyen is a poet whose poetry has been featured in NPR’s “Social Distance” poem for the community, The Crab Orchard Review, The Salt River Review, 3Elements, Connections, and RapGenius. The author’s poems were also named as a semi-finalist for the Auburn Witness Poetry Prize for the Southern Humanities Review. She was honored with a writing residency with The Inner Loop Poetry Series in Washington, D.C. She also writes about equity, justice, and community through literacy. Her essays on the importance of reading diverse literature have been featured in Literacy Today.

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