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In the Fourth Corner of the Earth


I arrive as a guest on the southern slopes of my mother’s death
or is it eastern I currently face in this diminishing matter
leaving eventually the colorful range of her chest
                shades of rage & old lifetimes.

The challenge precisely fatal as I juice my mind a former land
in which I once filled buckets of cherry tomatoes & the occasional spider
consummating this encounter. I am sore from seeing her still.

                So this is what grief looks like when it no longer moves.

Her dull gaze creamy & honest. An enduring memory that remains
                & it does not

                It is said the original humans did not have eyes.
Eyes to be fashioned by three godly metals: iron, copper, & silver.
When they opened their eyes they understood where they would grow to die
& so they learned in time to sew their own shoes
                so that they may enter paradise
                with all their toes.
                                                           So it was also decided among them
                                             where bodies felled by violence
                                             would go to enter magic baths of forgiveness.

                Where might this pool be far as I am.
                Mother’s metallic vision powered off & definitively.

As a guest in her bedroom I examine the living garbs in her suitcases,
lay onto the bed floral shirts, beaded sashes, & upon unearthing the rock
of her heirloom the slicing sound of her xauv punctuating through the halls.

                              Good maiden I leave your clothes & all your medicine.

Carcass for cocoon. My mother’s discontinued perfume could grow
in these slopes far as the eye can see her favorite flower: Tibetan Blue Poppy.
Quite the view it would make. The temperature embalming.


Khaty Xiong is a poet from Fresno, California. She is the author of debut collection, Poor Anima (Apogee Press, 2015), which holds the distinction of being the first full-length collection of poetry published by a Hmong American woman in the United States. Xiong’s work has been featured in Poetry, The Margins, Seneca Review, Academy of American Poets, the New York Times, How Do I Begin?: A Hmong American Literary Anthology (Heyday, 2011), and elsewhere. Her poem, “On Visiting the Franklin Park Conservatory & Botanical Gardens” was highlighted at the Poetry Foundation Gallery in an immersive poetry installation (June – September 2018) in Chicago, which centered on the conversation of grief and loss. She has held an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council and the Nadya Aisenberg Fellowship at The MacDowell Colony. She currently holds the Roxane Gay Fellowship in Poetry from Jack Jones Literary Arts.

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