Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong’s The Last Dinosaur:

When they asked me what it’s like, I tell them

imagine being born in a hospice

in flames. As my relatives melted, I stood

on one leg, raised my arms, shut my eyes & thought:

tree tree tree as death passed me—untouched.

I didn’t know god saw in us a failed

attempt at heaven. Didn’t know my eyes had three

shades of white but only one image

of my mother. She’s standing under an ancient

redwood, sad that her time on earth is all

she owns. O human, I’m not mad at you for winning

but that you never wished for more. Emperor

of language, why didn’t you master No

without forgetting Yes? Sure, we can

make out if you want, but I’m warning you—

it’s a lot. Sometimes I think gravity

was like: To be brutally honest… & then

never stopped talking. I guess what I mean

is that I ate the apple not because the man lied

when he said I was born of his rib

but that I wanted to fill myself with its hunger

for the ground, where the bones of my people

still dream of me. I bet the light on this page

isn’t invented yet. I bet you never guessed

that my ass was once a small-town

wonder. That the triceratops went nuts

when I danced. How once, after weeks

of drought, I walked through my brother’s laughter

just to feel the rain. O wind-broke wanderer, widow of hope

& ha-has. O sister, dropped seed—help me—

I was made to die but I’m here to stay.