At the Beginning of Hope: On Ocean Vuong’s “Time Is a Mother”

2022-07-02 07:46:03 By : Ms. Rachel Li

July 1, 2022   •   By Donnelle McGee

What we’ll always have is something we lost In the snow, the dry outline of my mother Promise me you won’t vanish again, I said She lay there awhile, thinking it over

Can you believe my uncle worked at the Colt factory for fifteen years only to use a belt at the end?

Talk about discipline. Talk about good lord.

Maybe he saw that a small thing moving through a large thing is more like a bird in a cage than a word in the mouth.

Nobody’s free without breaking open.

Because where I’m from the trees look like family laughing in my head.

Because I am the last of my kind at the beginning of hope.

Because what I did with my one short beautiful life — was lose it

Scraped the last $8.48 from the glass jar Your day’s worth of tips

at the nail salon. Enough for one hit. Enough to be good

four yolks into a day -white bowl, spoon the shells. Scallions hiss

in oil. A flick of fish sauce, garlic crushed the way you

taught me. The pan bubbling into a small possible sun. I am

a decent son. Salt & pepper. A sprig of parsley softened

I caved and decided it will be joy from now on. Then everything opened. The lights blazed around me into a white weather

and I was lifted, wet and bloody, out of my mother, into the world, screaming

The tape scrambles and I see the boy dancing with his mother in the front yard in the ’97 nor’easter, snow floating back up the sky as he twirls under her shadow — cast larger than life by sodium lights. The flakes going up to thicken god’s pillow for his never-ending sleep.

empty as a word -less mind stop writing about your mother they said but I can never take out the rose it blooms back as my own

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