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Tito Manuel Is Not Out of the Jungle Yet

Albert Abonado

At first, I believe I am witnessing
a small miracle, a monkey who converted
his hands into a coconut intended
to be delivered to me so I could drink

its liquid. I do not recognize the
animal's thirst and hunger because
I have my own appetites
to consider.

In the markets, vendors sold
monkeys in cages for pets, but
my mother warned me about keeping
such animals around

fire. They eventually learn the
nuances of igniting
a home. My father told me
a story about a monkey and turtle who

had an argument over obtaining fruit
from a tree. I forget the exact
details, the origins of the dispute,
only that it ended with a monkey covered

in thorns, a laughing turtle.
I may be at the start of another
story where a witch poses
as a monkey with coconuts

for hands. She once found a
fragment of my nail or hair and has
kept it in her teeth until today.
This is how she knows

to wait for me to approach her
until I am close enough
to snare me with her mouth.
If this is true, I do not know

how much monkey is actually
before me, but if I wait long
enough there may be
more coconuts.

Albert Abonado

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