Me and my host mom.
Me and my host mom.

She’s the first one up

And the last one to sleep,

In charge of rustling

Unruly adult children

To make sure all that needs

To be done

Gets done

So it can be done

Again the next day.

A black tank top under

Baggy windbreakers with

White stripes down the arms,

A hat two sizes too large,

And gardening gloves

With red palms,

Into the backyard she goes

To tend the garden

So that there might be

Fresh bounty.

She dips anything

Into a bit of water

Or tea

Just to give it a little


Stale ham, bricks of bread,

Milk curd covered in sugar,

Staring blankly

At the wall,

Chewing with her

Mouth open.

Freckled cheeks stretch

Under narrow eyes

And hazelnut skin,

She ties her hair up in

A bun with a toothy

Clip garnished with

Tawdry toy diamonds

And lets it down again

Only after the sun

Has long vanished.

When she speaks her eyes

Widen and her mouth

Hugs the curves

Around her words

But she tires easily sometimes,

So she sips the echoes

Of her tea

Knowing that what must

Keep the home in order

Is her.

Composed 06/23/2012

Author’s Note: My host mother did just about everything around the house. My host sister helped a lot with cooking, but in terms of keeping everything in order, it was all her. Even when her husband was around, she was the one in charge. Mongolian women are very tough, especially those who live in the countryside. I have a lot of respect for what they do.

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Responsibilities (Poetry)

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Remembering 2012 (Prose)

Drink the Water, Follow the Customs (Prose)


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