This morning, I watched a woman shatter
the thin ice on the pavement. I made the bed,
tucked in the sheets, and in the window,
I saw reflected my mother’s face.

Men in my life walked in and out of the room,
tramping snow. My mother shushed me,
and my father, with his brown, sinewy hands,
pulled up a pair of clean, black socks.

It isn’t what you think. My father was
a soldier. He taught me nothing
about men. They are an empty barrel
you’re not supposed to look into

or a gun you dismantle
to try to see its parts.

Cathy Linh Che