Phuong T. Vuong
Country of Origin
(after Safia Elhillo)
country: from medieval Latin contrata (terra) ‘(land) lying opposite’,
from Latin contra ‘against, opposite’.
—Oxford English Dictionary
vietnamese word nước means water
vietnamese word nước means country
cháu sống ở nước nào?
child, which country do you live in?
child, which waters do you live in?
an ocean is a stream of water
water you float in
is the country you belong to
salts and tans you
marks citizen glowing brown
if water equals country,
and water feeds lives,
you survive on country
therefore water is requisite for country
therefore water makes country
a country lies opposite from me
a country opposite an ocean
so country opposite water?
a homeland opposite water?
a homeland lying opposite from water is my country?
in what nước does this leave me?