An Ode to My Mother, A Khmer Rouge Survivor

By Davina Dang

Photo by Gunnar Bergström

A poem of sorts written by a daughter of a Khmer Rouge survivor. 

My mother before me is a woman illuminated by fire. a burning halo of resilience, pounding dirt roads in the pursuit of happiness. when her feet grew weary, onwards she ran with nothing but the ashes of what remained on her back. 

She told me how she saw a neighborhood perish in a mushroom cloud of amber and crimson. her childhood dissipated with the embers of ruin, the sting of rotting flesh burning the retinas of eyes that had seen too much. how the frogmarch from her home became a marathon with no end in sight, the khmers in green forcing her exile. 

From land to sea and back again, the persistence of my mother to survive in a world that persecuted her was the only constant she knew. i hear her love for life in her voice as she transitions from 普通話 to tiếng việt, 廣東話 to english and other unfamiliar tongues. i feel the happiness she sought all those years ago in the laughter that fills our home every Sunday, taste the passion for each culture she assimilated to through the stir of her spoon.

My mother, the warrior of a world that dared to challenge her.


Screenshot 2017-11-08 at 10.43.45 AM

Meet the Poet:

Davina Dang is first-generation 20-year-old poet who currently resides in the United Kingdom. She posts all of her writings on Instagram and on her WordPress blog.

Read more of her writings here
Check out her blog here
Follow her on Facebook here
Follow her personal Instagram here

Sorjo Magazine


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