My grandmother died in 1994 from starvation and lack of care in Vietnam. I have never seen her before, I have never talked to her, written to her, or ever seen her. But sometimes I dream about her, and how she must have been like, to be so strong to endure through the Vietnamese conflict, her husband killed by communists and letting go of her children who fled to America while she stayed in her homeland.

My mother was very attached to her and continues to write letters to her even today, knowing that she has passed.

This is a poem I wrote for my grandmother:

to my grandmother

i never knew you as a person, i never saw you,
you were thousands of miles away, that’s all i knew,

i remember my mom sat there for hours writing letters,
about her garden’s flowers,
and how it’s so nice to live in this place,
and how her own son is such a disgrace,

it wasn’t that she didn’t know,
that you had passed away so long ago.

perhaps it didn’t matter, that you had passed,
she didn’t even care.
she enjoyed writing letters to you anyways,
it took away her despair.

sometimes she’d sit alone, staring off into space,
imagining your presence, your beautiful face,

she’d sit there for hours,
staring into thin air,
and sometimes i sat with her and tried,
tried to imagine you were there.

i could see you sitting in your chair,
sitting there with so much elegant flair,
beautifully dressed in a thick red gown,
in so much pain, but never letting yourself frown,

but it still baffles me – we have never met,
and still, you are the most beautiful person yet.