Phuong T. Vuong
The Beginning of the Beginning

Who decides where a river starts? When are there enough

sources, strong currents and water wide enough for its name?


In Colorado, the Chama begins in smaller creeks and streams,

flows into New Mexico to form the Rio Grande, splitting Texas


and Mexico (who decided?) and moves deeper south. I think

a few of these thoughts by a creek on a beaming hot day,


as water rips by in rapids propelled, formed in mountains far above.

The water icy even in this summer heat. People grin


some false bravery. They sit in tubes and dip into the tide

and be carried away. I think of drowning. Of who sees water


as fun. Who gets to play in a heatwave. Who trusts

the flow. Migrants floating in the Rio Grande haunt me, so


I think of families tired of waiting, of mercy that never comes,

of taking back Destiny. The rivers must have claimed more


this year. Knows no metering but the rush of its mountain

source’s melt. A toddling child follows her father into water’s


pull. Think of gang’s demands, of where those come from. Trickles

of needs meeting form a flow of migrants. Think of where


it begins. Think of the current of history—long, windy, but

traceable and forceful in its early shapes.

Found In Volume 49, No. 04
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Phuong T. Vuong
About the Author
Phuong T. Vuong's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, Kenyon Review Online, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. Vuong's debut collection, The House I Inherit, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2019.