a Hmong Woman loves baby
cucumbers, unripened papayas, and green mangoes
anything she can dip with chili peppers and fish sauce
to spice up her life

a Hmong Woman enjoys serving
utensils, plates, and bowls
she likes playing games of intrigue with
the Dollar Store owner who is tricky;
he won’t sell all his dishes at once

so she knows she will have to come back every three days
to find more dishes for the matching set at home 

a Hmong Woman can never resist the allure of large,
plastic bowls with Chinese cartoons in the center
whether used to hold dishes, dreams,
batches of food, or even to bathe babies
the bowls are pivotal to keeping everything together  

a Hmong Woman knows her worth
she keeps it in a home-sewn cotton bag
hidden in the cup of her left bra
kept close to her heart
she knows how many dollars and cents she holds
and what balance remains in the hiding places of her bedroom

a Hmong Woman understands one of her greatest assets is a chest
freezer (preferably two)
where she can encapsulate the summer’s bounty
of scraped cucumber flesh and blanched green beans
in endless Ziploc bags
in a chest freezer, she can hide her booty
of mystery meat (which, of course, never begins as a mystery)
but when it is thawed months, perhaps years later,
she needs a little time to decipher that the lump before her
was, at one time, intestines meant for sausage casings
beef bones hoarded for a pho broth
perhaps it might have simply been pork chops
coveted but saved for a son or daughter
who was supposed to come by and pick them up
years ago