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What’s the point of writing if you’re just gonna force

a bunch of ants to cross a white desert?

— Cousin Sara, Age 7

& if you follow these ants

they’ll lead you back to

stone tablets

an older desert

where black bones

once buried are

now words whereI wave to you

at 2:34 am they survived

the blast by becoming

shrapnel embedded in

my brain which

is called learning but maybe

I shouldn’t talk

like this maybe I should start

over Sara I messed up I’m

trying to stay clean but

my hands are monsters

who believe in

magic Sara the throat is also

an inkwell black

oil wrung through

your father’s fingers

after a day beneath

the Buick say

heartbreak & nothing

will shatter say Stonehenge

& watch the elephants sleep

like boulders blurred

in Serengeti rain it doesn’t

have to make sense to be

real—your aunt Rose gone

two years now like

a trick they forgot

to finish & the air holds

your voice as

it holds its own

vanishing maybe you

are the true soldier

ant hoarder of

what’s so massive

it could crush you into

a twitching

comma Sara

your name sharpens daily

against the marble

of your mother’s teeth there

are sparks in every

calling & called we press

our faces to the womb

till we’re jokes on

our way to cracking up & maybe

you’re right little ant

queen with your shoes

the shade of dirty

paper white desert

your pink & blue pens

untouched after all

who can stare at

so many ruins & call it

reading this family

of ants fossilized

on the page you slam

the book shut look out

at the leafless trees

doused in red April rain

where none of us

are children long enough

to love it

Dear Sara

Ocean Vuong

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translated from the Ukrainian written by
Halyna Kruk