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The House on Southampton Drive - Oanh Nguyen

Just like our house in Saigon

there is a table and a mirror by the front door.

For a mirror facing the door

would reflect all the good feng shui away.

A swinging saloon door

like the ones in tv westerns partitions

our Vietnamese kitchen from the American-style dining room.

but even saloon doors could not blockade

the scent of fish sauce, grease and incense.

The kitchen’s harvest gold linoleum tiles with geometric patterns

match the faux tiffany hanging lamp

and yellow sunflower wallpaper.

But clashed violently with

the firecracker red calendar from a pho restaurant.

The year is 1982

but the calendar is from 1978.

A fragrant verdant tangle of mint, cilantro and basil

Unfurl in the back yard.

mother wrangles the wild herbs into summer rolls.

with vermicelli noodles, shrimp and bits of pork.

A neighbor’s dog barks on the other side of the fence.

The garage floor was cold and smooth.

I roller skate in circles for hours

daydreaming of time travel.

I sit on the porch steps waiting for a friend

We would share a mango and cut two halves that are exactly equal.

I crack my jade bracelet in two jumping on my parents’ bed.

The pieces cower in the waste basket in a powder blue bathroom.

Metal creaks as I climb up the ladder in my bunk bed.

venetian blinds slant to only let in some light,

casting the room in a deep sleepy grey.


Oanh Nguyen lives outside Philadelphia with her two daughters, a dog, a cat, a snake and miscellaneous fish. In her spare time, she knits, plays guitar, practices yoga and runs. She is currently a part-time online student at the University of Pennsylvania, focusing on Creative Writing.



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