The Gift | Ocean Vuong
a b c a b c a b c She doesn't know what comes after. So we begin again: a b c a b c a b c But I can see the fourth letter: a strand of black hair — unraveled from the alphabet & written on her cheek. Even now the nail salon will not leave her: isopropyl acetate, ethyl acetate, chloride, sodium lauryl sulfate & sweet fuming through her pink I <3 NY t-shirt a b c a b c a b c — the pencil snaps. The b bursting its belly a dark dust blows through a blue-lined sky. Don't move, she says, as she picks a wing bone of graphite from the yellow carcass, slides it back Again. & again I see it: the strand of hair lifting from her face. . . how it fell onto the page — & lived with no sound. Like a word. I still hear it.
To watch an animated version of the poem, click on the image below (sound on):