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Tito Manuel and a Boy Try To Escape the Invasion

Albert Abonado

Boy, you are fat,
as if I have slung an entire province
of rice fields over my shoulder.
I feel you slouch

into the bullets around us, hear
the air in your chest pass
into mosquitoes. I know then
I could drop you on to

the gravel and you would
understand the necessity of my
decision. I lifted you
because you looked as if

a water buffalo plowed through you
when the men arrived
and you could not find
a single mother among them.

Let me tell you a story about
men made of smoke. Eventually,
the sky takes them and all we
remember is no larger

than the dark smudge
we receive on our foreheads
for Ash Wednesday.
Had you survived, I would

have shown you how to make
our words from smoke.
For now, I carry you a little
further for the quiet

your company suggests,
envious you cannot hear the
people around us snapping their
bodies against the trees.

Albert Abonado

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