Bryan Thao Worra
Tom Mak Hung
We think them plentiful, like jumping shrimp and tiny crabs:
These mak hung, these chilies, the base for padaek.
The mouth waters with even a mention.
Every heart of Laos knows it well.
Cross oceans and mountains, battlefield and basement,
Oz or Kyrgyzstan, Modesto or Nashville, Phoenix or Pakse.
Meet anyone who can say sabaidee or a word of passa lao.
Even if they don‟t remember their history or family,
How to nop or how to fon, or the secrets to singing a good mor lum
We still become one again with as little as a dish.
Our bellies fill like an ancient queen, a saint of Laos,
Our heroines and heroes, our elders and children,
The clever beauties and the dreaming scholars.
Pounding away until it‟s so hot you sweat,
A mix of sweet and salt, starch and bite
What poet, what priest,
What politician, what legend can truly compete or compare?
We sing of the fine dok champa, but our people also sleep
With memories of mak hung, a smile, a tongue afire.
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