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November-December 2017

Third Eye

New poetry by Souvankham Thammavongsa

Souvankham Thammavongsa

My mother had given birth a few months
ago. I thought it

was odd, as she just turned sixty recently.
I had not seen

her pregnant. But there it was in the room,
all formed. A

baby boy. I didn’t know what his name
was, only that she told

me I could have him, if I wanted, she didn’t
really care. And

I told her I didn’t want him. And when I
did, she picked him

up, and as she did this, I noticed at the
back of his head, a third

grey eye. It had opened and blinked and
then closed. She took

him to another room down the hall and I
followed. Then, she

stumbled and fell, collapsed. I ran to her,
to pick her up. Her whole

face was gone, peeled back, and her eyes
weren’t even there. I

picked her up like she was my own child
and held her. I was sorry

I wasn’t there sooner. And all this time, I
did not think of that child.

The one with the third grey eye. I only
thought of her now,

who she had been to me then, and if she
would be that again.

Souvankham Thammavongsa is writer-in-residence at the University of Ottawa.

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