Winter Solstice 2020 by Bunkong Tuon

Winter Solstice 2020

My wife takes the kids to see her parents.
I have great plans for the weekend.

I scrub dishes, forks, knives, and place
them in the strainer. I clean the sink,

use stainless steel pad to remove
grease on the sides of the oven.

I windex the glass window.
Darkness lasts forever

Nowadays. The dirt is cold, hard.
Cold rain washes away January snow.

The soil is frozen, bare and dark.
The sky is dark, lonely.

Has it always been like this?
My wife’s yiayia passed away

the same week Toni Morrison did.
My Lok-Yeay passed away

in another state while I was going up
for tenure. My hands and feet are cold.

My uncle said that on her last night
Lok-Yeay opened her eyes and spoke

to people she hadn’t seen in forty years.
She was back in her village.

I sweep the floor, organize mail, scrub the toilet.
I sweep, scrub, scrub, and weep.


Bunkong Tuon is a Cambodian-American writer and critic. He is the author of Gruel, And So I Was Blessed (both published by NYQ Books), The Doctor Will Fix It (Shabda Press), and Dead Tongue (Yes Poetry). His prose and poetry have appeared or are forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Lowell Review, Massachusetts Review, The American Journal of Poetry, carte blanche, Diode Poetry Journal, Paterson Literary Review, The Mekong Review, Consequence, among others. He teaches at Union College, in Schenectady, NY.

One thought on “Winter Solstice 2020 by Bunkong Tuon

  1. oh i love this poem so much–the sweet resonance of sweep/weep, the way we look to the daily work to find a path forward through loss. The way we are grounded and then set free by the quotidian chores–wonderful poem.

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