third new year

after the gregorian new year
and the lunar new year
there is the khmer new year

and with it comes
my birthday
and the anniversary
of the reason
i exist, here
in this country
in this psyche

april 17, 1975

bombs and gunfire
the fall

no time to think
about the new year

no incense
only smoke
and prayers

followed by
5 years
of hard labor

and then

april 17, 1985

ten years later
another continent

celebrating
a new year
a new life

in a new home
that is now home
but not home

or is it?

we hold on
we plant roots
in whatever way
we can

we go on
try to remember

i try to hold
onto memories that
i never lived
but which live
inside me

to be here
because of war

to be host
of a war
between the distant
past and the current
circumstance

to know
who i am
and still
be searching

to learn
how to celebrate

to accept
that time
only moves
forward
no matter
how your back
is turned

to not
constantly
brace
for a sudden stab
from front
or behind

to keep
saying
everything
will be okay

everything
will be
okay

everything
will be
okay

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