Light, downy fluff from seed pods of kapok trees,
sound-deadening material, insulated
airplanes, sometimes cushioned cockpit seats.
Prey Nokor, in Khmer, means forest of kapok trees,
later called Saigon. My father might have crouched
behind these trees in '68, the branches crowded
with robust simple thorns. The leaves like palms
and the pods, the size of soda cans, grow hundreds
to a tree. Their fibre's light, buoyant,
resilient, highly flammable, resistant to water.
His favorite drink is root beer. My sisters, blithe
in '82, gulped A&W in the yard
and when an airplane crossed, they'd stretch up their tanned arms
and raise their cans in an unheard toast.
Emily Brandt teaches literature, theatre, and yoga to high school students at the School for International Studies in Brooklyn, and is the founder and director of the nonprofit organization Take Back the News. She has been writing poetry her whole life, and workshopping it regularly with a community of writers in Brooklyn for the last six years.