Thu Anh Nguyen

We Were Made This Way


We have all put on our summer skin,
browned by minutes and hours spent out of doors,
out of our minds with gratefulness
that the hardest months are behind us.

None of us can sleep in,
because once we are up, we are all wild and working,
and you can’t catch us. We were made this way
by a man whose nickname was Awake.

Even in his last months,
when rest would have been a relief,
there were pills to take and meals to eat
to make the pills more bearable.

Sleep was just a semicolon in the day’s long sentence.

So he paced, too cold for sleep, and too weak
to go outside where he would have liked it,
where he could put up a ladder against a too-tall tree
and disappear for a few hours, heart pointed towards the light.

It seems unfair now that this is when
we are finally ourselves, sun-ripened
like the fruit we spend all summer picking,
frantic not to waste his years of planting.

And still, some fall before we can catch them,
bruise and rot. We are sorry.
We aren’t sure how to go on without him;
we just keep running towards the warmth.




Thu Anh Nguyen is a poet whose poetry has been featured in the Southern Humanities Review, Cider Press Review, Curator Magazine, Zoetic Press’ Heathentide Orphans, The BIPOC Issue of Wingless Dreamer, NPR’s “Social Distance” poem for the community, Crab Orchard Review, The Salt River Review, 3Elements, Connections, and RapGenius.