national anthology of the best
undergraduate writing 2010

Watermarked


This Old Windmill, Jenny Nguyen

My mother called it “God’s country,” as if
He were a cloud that spread only over
Southern Delaware.  Southern Delaware—
gossiping roadside fruit stands; fish-diving
osprey on the Nanticoke River; nylon
plants, now closed; milk jugs bobbing in the bay,
marking crab traps and silt-sunken sails.

 

Southern Delaware was underwater
not too long ago. And the dirt is sand,
and the air is salt, and birds fly over
seeking the sea and they’re close, and they’re close
but the lush blue-green is just peach trees.
I bid the gulls east on their way to shore
where they’ll find vinegar fries for dinner.

 

My mother was born here. My grandmother
dies here. The tourists come with the drought.
There’s a town called Hardscrabble near a town
called Little Heaven. And I believe Heaven
is sun-baked roads in July and summer
handing you a ripened-red tomato.