* — October 26, 2017
There Are No Children Here
J. Triepke, 2015
The Karen community of Huai Tong Ko is one of the least accessible villages in the mountains of Thailand’s Mae Hong Son province. Even so, the community offers homestays to students and tour groups several times a year.
Muga means something approximating “aunt.” But when Muga opens
her small photo album and lays it on the floor between us, she is
nothing but mother. She points to the faces of her children and tells
me names in a language I still strain to understand. I ask ages, and
she tells me those too. I was born the same year as her first daughter.
I don’t ask where, but learn anyway: the oldest son a soldier, the
daughters bai tam ngan in the city, the youngest at boarding school
five hours away down the mountain. Later, I find a spare blanket
snuck underneath my mosquito netting, an extra scoop of rice in my
bowl, a bite of chicken deposited onto my spoon. All week, the mugas
tug their host daughters from house to house, handing us snacks of
boiled corn and coconut milk, sitting us in front of their looms and
laughing as we fumble like children half our age.


Originally published in No Tokens Issue No. 5. View full issue & more.

Jasmine An comes from the Midwest. She has also lived in Chiang Mai, Thailand, studying language, urban development and climate change, and blacksmithing. Her chapbook, Naming the No-Name Woman, won the 2015 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize and her next, Monkey Was Here, is forthcoming in early 2018. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in HEArt, Stirring: A Literary Collection, Red Paint Hill, and The Blueshift Journal, among others. She is a Hedgebrook alumna, and a PhD student in English and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan.