Sabine Huynh: “Weaning” and “On Different Time Planes”

Sabine Huynh is a poet, novelist, linguistics scholar, and literary translator. Born in Saigon in 1972, she was raised in France and has lived in England, Israel, the US, and Canada. Her work came to my attention through Helen Bar-Lev, co-editor of the Israeli literary journal Cyclamens and Swords, where these two poems first appeared. Reprinted by permission.


It’s in hunger
that I write best
about you, mother
when you don’t look
above my shoulder
presentable you are absent
or else you appear
your mad gaze searching
for my readiness to admire
but I was not born
to approve of you, mother.

It’s in hunger
that I remember best
how your love lacked
milk, mother
my mother so called
my property, so proper
beautifully groomed girl
who eyed my teacher after
school hoping he would think
I was your sister
or even your mother.

It’s in hunger
that you wove best
mother, I wish you were
an otter, short-legged
mustached, anything but
this sleek hysterical hyena
who couldn’t swim
only catwalked, no fish
remains for me
you relinquished mother
masked my pleas with a hood.

It’s in hunger you taught me
that less is best
how to sever
love for ever.

(published in Cyclamens and Swords, July 2008)


On different time planes

For a week I went to bed
knowing she’d called
forgetting she’d left
her voice in that space
between us.

“I’m calling randomly
not knowing the time difference
ignoring where you are.”

When I was ten you bought me a piano
you played it so well
while what I wanted the most
was an old bicycle
like my brothers’.

Did you know that
the dog you got yourself
dressed up and never fed
became my best friend?

Every night I brushed off
from your broken veins and split ends
burning lies, diamonds, and secrets
that tripped me off in my sleep.

(published in Cyclamens and Swords, April 2010)

21 comments on “Sabine Huynh: “Weaning” and “On Different Time Planes”

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    Hi. I think you visited my site. I’d love to chat more. Especially about writing and any advice you can give me. I am also a straight ally

  2. Sabine Huynh says:

    Dear Jendi,
    I was away for a few weeks for work but I just got back and saw your post, how kind of you to support my poetry work, thank you!
    Wishing you all the best!

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