Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Ocean Vuong is the author of the chapbook BURNINGS and is a recent graduate from Brooklyn College with a B.A. In English. A Kundiman fellow, he was a finalist for the 2011 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Poems appear in The American Poetry Review, Verse Daily, and RHINO, amongst others.
And this is how we danced: with our mothers’
white dresses spilling from our feet, late August
turning our hands dark red. And this is how we loved:
a fifth of vodka and an afternoon in the attic, your fingers
sweeping though my hair—my hair a wildfire.
We covered our ears and your father’s tantrum turned
into heartbeats. When our lips touched the day closed
into a coffin. In the museum of the heart
there are two headless people building a burning house.
There was always the shotgun above the fireplace.
Always another hour to kill—only to beg some god
to give it back. If not the attic, the car. If not the car,
the dream. If not the boy, his clothes. If not alive,
put down the phone. Because the year is a distance
we’ve traveled in circles. Which is to say: this is how
we danced: alone in sleeping bodies. Which is to say:
This is how we loved: a knife on the tongue turning
into a tongue.