Phuong T. Vuong
Traversence

What is the speed of light.

 

At my desk I count to five slowly after a flash of lightning.

 

A mosquito dies in my notebook. I do not remember or notice when.

 

There is a light between the pages. There.

 

All a sudden, sky the brightest blue behind the catalpa tree.

 

The brightest green lit up. Heavenly dark stalk and sun-glow leaves.

 

Rain becomes hail becomes soft rain then—

 

silence.

 

A child hops across a puddle.

 

The speed of a Google algorithm: 2 seconds.

 

The brain makes electrical connections at the speed of 156 miles per hour.

 

A smell of some old thing in the street transports me at such a speed.

 

My hand is always reaching out for this tug. In my mind, the hand remains extended. 

 

I time travel too easy.

 

Think of mom. Think of dad. Aunts. Grandparents.

 

Their beings to the ratio of names I do not know.

 

My grandmother dies and I can never remember her age.

 

Other times the electrical connections are a stutter. Obstruction of a weak spark plug.

 

Instead, remember palm leaf’s drag on dusty ground.

 

Remember adolescent re-meeting her.

 

A cement well in the afternoon countryside. Sweetness of ripe jackfruit.

 

Heavy water evaporates quick in the tropical heat.

 

My grandmother dies and she is always dying. On loop.

 

I arm myself in the shadows of dislocation.

 

Remember hard. Remember.

 

Remember as revisiting.

 

Remember haunting.

 

                            as adding member.

 

                            as knowing something severed.

 

                                                               someone severed.

 

What is the speed of memory?

 

The speed at which ancestors travel: ___________________ .

 

 

                                                  

 

 

Found In Volume 49, No. 04
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Phuong T. Vuong
About the Author
Phuong T. Vuong's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Kenyon Review Online, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. Vuong's debut collection, The House I Inherit, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2019.