Mia Ayumi Malhotra is a poet from the San Francisco Bay Area. Her work has appeared in “Mid-American Review”, “Greensboro Review”, “Best New Poets”, and elsewhere. Read more of her work at: miamalhotra.com/poems-etc.

A Gift Shaped By Fire
Notes on a Missionary Kid’s Childhood
By Mia Ayumi Malhotra

MY FAMILY MOVED to the Lao People's Democratic Republic in 1990, just as the country emerged from Cold War isolationism into an era of international development and commerce. No paved roads or traffic lights; hammers and sickles hung in every storefront window. At night, our Soviet air conditioner rumbled through the sticky heat; at dawn, we woke to Party broadcasts, blared across municipal grounds.