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Migration’s Undoing

On a bus watching in reverse—away perpetually—
I move towards a stop not in view.
To gain, one loses landscapes.
I am hurled, moved
by another’s progress. I am in motion
therefore I am. Someone not stable
scribbled this. For some, the ground jerks
uncertain. Premises shift
and men with papers expect
we stand stoic behind walls. They taunt
images of gold and security gate.
When pushed and lured this way,
movement is not always a choice.

I want to place myself on a vehicle speeding
from anything. To allow hindsight to work,
give transportation time to move me. Put me
in my place, so I arrive to a destiny.
Tell me my story how it makes sense:
backwards, letter by letter.


Immigrant’s Lament

I wish I could tell what’s next.
Could keep the cut lilacs tall for a few days—
just until the peonies bloom. The sun strengthens, and I
wander the river walk. This is my small sphere.
I’ll make good, stay folded in myself. I promise
to memorize the bramble and texture of garden walls.
Smile on every rodent finding its meal.
Grow magnanimous in quiet’s chaos.

Even the hawk strays but swoops
returns to its treetop to find again
its true nature. Could it be this is mine—
to reach out and hold. From here, wait—

the phone buckles under I love you’s mass
strung up so you do not hear in time
the words tumbling from my mouth to nowhere,
while they send back all your kind.
All I can do is hold out my hand. You—

I can only imagine you reach back.


This story is part of a special issue of The Margins around the theme “Camp.” Look out for more essays, stories, and poems in the issue in the coming weeks.

Phuong T. Vuong has received fellowships and support from Tin House, VONA/Voices, and Kearny Street Workshop’s Interdisciplinary Writers Lab. She has publications in or forthcoming in Duende, Cutthroat, Apogee, and elsewhere. Her debut poetry collection The House I Inherit is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in early 2019. Currently, she is an MFA candidate at the University of Colorado Boulder.

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