Departure by Ocean Vuong

Dawn cracks: a lightning bolt
carving slowly through the clouds.

All night I listened to your breath.
Even tasted your lips
when the moon turned you pale
as a corpse.
I haven’t killed a thing

since the morning
we followed gunshots into a field
peppered with sparrows. Remember
how their necks twitched
beneath our thumbs? Before twisting,
I took some time to feel

the rage of wings against palm,
marveling at such fierce resistance
to mercy. Perhaps
it was selfish—I couldn’t bear
the sound of wings
flying nowhere.

Darling, forgive me. When you wake
and begin to flutter in the emptiness
still warm from my whispers,
I will be too far
from this field
to wrap my hands around
that little bird
                       in your chest.


This particular poem of Vuong’s comes from his chapbook “Burnings” which is no longer in print, but you can purchase his other powerful book Night Sky with Exit Wounds. Click here to purchase.

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To learn more about Ocean Vuong, visit his website by clicking here or his author page on the Poetry Foundation by clicking here.

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