Poetry Archive

Sight Word

The first word my son recognized was exit.
Red illuminated letters that hung
from ceilings, next to stairwells,
over all kinds of doors and openings.
Everywhere, his small voice would call out,
with all the giddy triumph of the newly literate.
And me encouraging him in every instance.
Never considering that once
he broke through,
he could never go back.

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Filed under: Poetry Archive


Pichchenda Bao is a Cambodian American writer and poet, infant survivor of the Khmer Rouge regime, daughter of refugees, and feminist stay-at-home mother in New York City. Her work has been published by the Adirondack Review, New Ohio Review, great weather for MEDIA, Newtown Literary and elsewhere. She was a 2019 emerging writer fellow at the Aspen Words summer writers’ conference, and is an incoming fellow at the Kundiman writers’ retreat. She writes sporadically on her blog: thisliferecord.blogspot.com and tweets @sreypichch.