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A Vietnamese Diasporic Lense


Jennifer Le snapshots her family’s celebration of this year’s Lunar New Year.

How the dragon glides,

Its flames a parade of neon blaze.

I can never get over how swiftly she moves,

waves bouncing through crowd.

How I wish I can be her.

Purple crisp silks flowing down, oh modest woman.

I’ve never seen my mum’s face glow more than when she wore ao dai.

The sweet nostalgia of her homeland wanes the fact that this is not even her dress.

This is the first time since childhood I have worn ao dai.

I’ve spent most of my life being too embarrassed to wear one, even when it was merely asked once a year. What a fool I was.

This soft silky layer somehow forms a second skin. The threads of my ancestors. Of my matriarch. Together we have ao dai.

Once a year we sit down closely knit, no matter how far we have grown apart.

It is because we are bound by the vibrant games we have shared since childhood.

Our children, as young as five, placing innocent coined bets on the green crab.

We all anticipate the reveal of the dealer’s dice roll, uproariously chanting our bet.

Manifesting an easy win.

Here we, the matriarchy (mẫu hệ) sit before you.

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