The Bull

by Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong

He stood alone in the backyard, so dark the night purpled around him.
I had no choice. I opened the door
& stepped out. Wind
in the branches. He watched me with kerosene
-blue eyes. What do you want? I asked, forgetting I had no language. He kept breathing,
to stay alive. I was a boy –
which meant I was a murderer
of my childhood. & like all murderers, my god
was stillness. My god, he was still
there. Like something prayed for
by a man with no mouth. The green-blue lamp swirled in its socket. I didn’t
want him. I didn’t want him to
be beautiful – but needing beauty
to be more than hurt gentle
enough to hold, I reached for him. I reached – not the bull –
but the depths. Not an answer but
an entrance the shape of
an animal. Like me.

Time Is a Mother

Last updated February 24, 2023