“Ice Cream” By Bunkong Tuon


This is the first in a series of poems from a forthcoming poetry collection about raising a biracial daughter in Contemporary America, during this polarizing time of political and cultural upheavals where sexual harassment allegations abound, where a wall, literal and figurative, threatens to keep out immigrants like the narrator, a former refugee and child survivor of the Cambodian Genocide.


Ice Cream

I take Chanda
to the local mall,
where she flies
in the bounce house
with other kids,
screaming and laughing.
She climbs up
the slide and rolls
down the cushy steps.
She pirouettes
on the piano floor.
Then I take her
to the ice cream place
where we share
a cup of vanilla.
I watch her quietly
shove a spoonful
into her waiting mouth,
tasting the sweetness
on her pink tongue.
Memories of my father
flood, how he lost his wife.
When the Khmer Rouge regime
fell, Grandma was preparing to
take me with her to Thailand.
My father took me out
for ice cream one day.
He was telling me
something important.
That he would follow
Grandma and bring me home.
That he would wait
for me.
That he would always . . .
But I couldn’t hear a word
he said once the ice cream
flooded my tongue with
such sweetness.


About the Author: Bunkong Tuon is the author of Gruel (2015) and And So I Was Blessed (2017), both poetry collections published by NYQ Books, and a regular contributor to Cultural Weekly  He is also an associate professor of English and Asian Studies at Union College, in Schenectady, NY.


More poetry by Bunkong Tuon:

Our Neighborhood in Revere, MA
Snow Day
An Elegy for a Fellow Cambodian
Halloween, 1985
Dancing Fu Manchu Master
Fishing for Trey Platoo
Lies I Told About Father


Image Credit: “Miss Lisa’s ice cream sign, old Rt. 31, Perrysburg, Michigan” By John Margolies, The Library of Congress