On Pets and Sharp Objects by Thuy Dinh

Her mother’s hen was named Lucky. Lucky wasn’t lucky. Her grandmother killed Lucky on the eve of their evacuation from the country to the city. She urged, “We should eat Lucky. He was our friend. Now we need him for food.”

On the eve of their evacuation from the country to the city, her mother, then a seven year-old, refused to eat Lucky. From then on, each and every act of her mother’s refusal would echo that first act of refusal.

Her father’s dog was named Phay. On the eve of their evacuation from the city to the country, her grandfather sold Phay to a dog meat vendor. Her dad, then a ten year-old, would remember a flash of fire-gold. This flash of fire-gold still sparkles sixty years later, long after Phay’s essence had communed with rice crackers, red basil, coriander, mint, and lemongrass; long after those who had consumed Phay dissolved into dust.

Her own dog was a stray, scabbed and shriveled, a gray smudge running smacked into a moving car. The car kept going. Behind the gate of her school, the woman, then an eight year old, saw how the dog was crushed: its belly ripped open, its blood and guts flowering red over black tar, like firecrackers on the streets of Saigon in the days before the Tet Offensive.

The woman has become a mother. While she is happy she must avoid sharp objects—knives, scissors, paper. She is still afraid of the flashes of memory traveling faster than the speed of light.

Thuy Dinh is the co-editor of Da Mau, a literary webzine that promotes works by diasporic and dissident Vietnamese writers. Her poetry translation has been featured in Prairie Schooner’s Fusion #10. Thuy was recently named the 2017 non-fiction scholar at the Virginia Quarterly Review Writers’ Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia.