Bryan Thao Worra


Among the monotheists we are the children of the Word
From the very first second in which the light came to be,
Before a witness was or a single eye blinked.

There is a mystic in New York who will tell you
How much he now believes in the 72-syllable secret name of God,
Even more than the genome we spent half his lifetime collating.

"God is certain, chemicals are not," he'll say confidently,
His shallow face lit by a thin scented candle,
His great wall of used books behind him filled with unread passages.

In the basement of Qwest's center on Stinson in September
A young woman named Khadra confirms for me
That she knows all of the sacred names of Allah and still believes

Even as our world threatens to crash down around our ears
While her faith is unfashionable, and my own words seem so small.
We are laid off in October with barely a warning or fanfare

At the same time the Russians are remembering
Their Great Revolution in Red Square
Though only a handful still revere the State's blushing face

Twisting on giant banners in the cold Muscovite wind.
"My name means 'Green,'" Khadra says as we wait for the bus one last time.
"And it's true I come from a nation of poets. Is yours such a place?"

I did not know how to reply, distracted into thinking
How hard it was to imagine
That single perfect word with which a universe might be made

Watching a nearby wild flower and a monarch butterfly
Who both seem so free without questions,
Destined to die with the first winter frost

Location: St. Paul, Minnesota
Publications: Bamboo Among the Oaks Anthology, Whistling Shade, Unarmed, Astropoetica, the Paj Ntaub Voice, the Asian Pacific Journal, the Journal of the Asian American Renaissance
Awards: 2002 Minnesota Playwrights' Center Many Voices Fellow

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