By Ocean Vuong
Young enough to believe nothing
will change them, they step, hand-in-hand,
into the bomb crater. The night full
of black teeth. His faux Rolex, weeks
from shattering against her cheek, now dims
like a miniature moon behind her hair.
In this version the snake is headless – stilled
like a cord unraveled from the lovers’ ankles.
He lifts her white cotton skirt, revealing
another hour. His hand. His hands. The syllables
inside them. O father, O foreshadow, press
into her – as the field shreds itself
with cricket cries. Show me how ruin makes a home
out of hip bones. O mother,
O minutehand, teach me
how to hold a man the way thirst
holds water. Let every river envy
our mouths. Let every kiss hit the body
like a season. Where apples thunder
the earth with red hooves. & I am your son.
Contributor’s Note: OCEAN VUONG will join poet Sherry Robbins, the musician/producer Space Cubs (Suzanne Bonifacio), and audio-visual media and installation artist Projex (Keith Harrington) in this month’s Silo City Reading Series event at 7 p.m. Saturday at Marine A Elevator, Silo City Row, Ohio and Childs streets. He is the author of the acclaimed first full-length collection “Night Sky With Exit Wounds” (Copper Canyon Press, 2016) and the chapbooks: “No” (YesYes Books, 2013) and “Burnings” (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2010). A 2016 Whiting Award winner, a 2014 Ruth Lilly fellow, he has received honors and awards from Poets House, the Elizabeth George Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, the Academy of American Poets (which awarded him the 2012 Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets), and a 2014 Pushcart Prize. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he currently resides in New York City. This poem originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of Poetry magazine.