Ocean Vuong

The Touch

We slept on the floor, our bones cushioned
with cardboard. Behind the wall, someone

was humming a lullaby. I felt the hardwood tremble,
my mother's shoulder quivering

against my back, the sound of tears
flooding her breaths as she quietly cursed

the god she failed to know. I did not think
as I reached into darkness, guiding a love infused

in fingertips, as I wrapped my arms
around her waist. The way a man does.

I did not think how the wind stopped hissing
through the cracked window, or how

she softly exhaled as I pulled closer knowing
this was not right: a boy reaching out

and into the shell of a husband. I only knew
the warmth spreading between us,

that the wings on her shoulders
were really my hands.

Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry
Issue 1 | June 2010 | pp 20