Amanda Huynh

Huynh, Amanda


Amanda Huynh is a native Houstonian living in Virginia. She attends the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University. She was a finalist for the 2015 Gloria Anzaldúa Poetry Prize. Her work is published or forthcoming in the following journals: Huizache, The Healing Muse, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and As/Us: Women of the World.


Returning to the Moment I Learned To Count


my imperfections: in our small house

          in Houston, my two hands swollen

and puffy from rips of skin,

          my six-year-old fingernails bitten.


Each time my fingers seek the comfort

          of my mouth, you slap them,

rub jalapeño pepper juice into the cuts

          then cover them with gloves. Seven


brings new glasses: you hand me

          the pretty bronze frame and I jump

from the clearer vision of the parking lot.

          I smile until you introduce me

to the word four-eyes. At ten I struggle


to fix my short hair, smooth the dark mess

          into a half ponytail before school. But it’s ugly:

you pull the chongo out. You call attention

          to the smell of my puberty, twelve grams

of red spots on a pad needing a change

          because I smell like vagina. Fifteen: I run


around the pool with cousins until you say

          my stomach pouch makes it seem

like I’m pregnant. I wrap myself in a pale

          yellow beach towel. At seventeen, I need


to wax my eyebrows. At twenty-two, I still

          don’t wear makeup. At twenty-four, I need

more exercise. At twenty-six, I understand

          why you don’t love yourself.


Dull Circles


I find my mother at the hospital bus stop

although she no longer works there: my mother

dressed in a lollipop scrub top and blue pants

speckled with bleach, patchy like her mind.

          I’m waiting—waiting for the bus. No. Going

          to work: patients to take care of. Yes, patients.

I want her back. I want to catalogue her memories

in her brain’s filing cabinet where she last saw them,

the clean manila folders inside fleshy dividers,

the metal click of the drawer. I look at each stranger—


          Stand. Walk beside the faces of patients

          in the hospital; place a hand on the Welcome Desk.


each one walking by until she does. I trail behind her, moving

with the scrubbed crowd. Mother stops at the counter; I nod

to the volunteer as he says hello to my mother the way he did

yesterday. The same way he will do next week, like a lunch date.  


            I yawn my hands open and notice something missing—

            my ring. A dull silver with a topaz gem. From my son.


Every hospital volunteer recognizes me, recognizes her

hands’ routine: they spider the counter then the hospital floor, lobby

chairs, marble stairs. Searching until she rests an ear on the hand rail.

They reach out to people walking by, Have you seen my ring?


            A woman who has my same brow and nose takes me home

            and I scream for my missing ring. But she isn’t listening.


I drive through her wailing, yielding when the light turns yellow,

and watch a little girl in the car over: staring into her lap, chipping

nail polish off her nail, twisting a ring. Always her ring. Always

my brother. I text him: Another fit. Come by the house. A car honks.


          I shake my hands at the woman, but she sits me down

          in front of the television. The woman wipes my face and cries.


I don’t know her anymore. I spend my evenings in the kitchen: pulling

every plate, every glass out of the cabinets to replace. We wait for him

to knock. She remembers my brother. He has another sterling ring for her

gnawed finger to lose. She remembers his name before she calls mine.



© The Acentos Review 2015