In a recent New Yorker, we found ourselves moved and boggled by the poem Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong, as though its language were working on us like a painting or a subtle medicine.
We looked up the poet Ocean Vuong. His bio reads: Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he currently resides in New York City. He thinks you’re perfect.
I am, unfortunately, not good at explaining my own poems. But I will say that you should trust your own reading. Whatever you’ve taken from the work is always always always the right answer–the perfect answer. Your own personal experience of the poem is equally as valuable and unique as my writing it.
It seems to us essential advice for anyone wading into poetry, which works in mysterious ways.
We’ve read Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong many times now, realizing that we are just beginning, after all these years, to understand the breadth of poetry.
Someday I’ll Love Ocean Vuong
Ocean, don’t be afraid.
The end of the road is so far ahead
it is already behind us.
Don’t worry. Your father is only your father
until one of you forgets. Like how the spine
won’t remember its wings
no matter how many times our knees
kiss the pavement. Ocean,
are you listening? The most beautiful part
of your body is wherever
your mother’s shadow falls.
Here’s the house with childhood
whittled down to a single red tripwire.
Don’t worry. Just call it horizon
& you’ll never reach it.
Here’s today. Jump. I promise it’s not
a lifeboat. Here’s the man
whose arms are wide enough to gather
your leaving. & here the moment,
just after the lights go out, when you can still see
the faint torch between his legs.
How you use it again & again
to find your own hands.
You asked for a second chance
& are given a mouth to empty into.
Don’t be afraid, the gunfire
is only the sound of people
trying to live a little longer. Ocean. Ocean,
get up. The most beautiful part of your body
is where it’s headed. & remember,
loneliness is still time spent
with the world. Here’s
the room with everyone in it.
Your dead friends passing
through you like wind
through a wind chime. Here’s a desk
with the gimp leg & a brick
to make it last. Yes, here’s a room
so warm & blood-close,
I swear, you will wake—
& mistake these walls