Ocean Vuong

A Little Closer to the Edge


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 minute hand, 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.

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About "A Little Closer to the Edge"

Both chronologically and narratively, “A Little Closer to the Edge” comes before “Immigrant Haibun” and after “Aubade with Burning City”. This poem foreshadows the downfall of the relationship between Ocean Vuong’s parents that is detailed further in “Immigrant Haibun” after they escape from falling Saigon, Vietnam.

A Little Closer to the Edge Track info