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I tune the radio.
Rakhmaninov’s piano phrases
vibrate crisp
apples on a window sill. I smell

burning ginkgo leaves. My mother said,
“Your father will die soon,” then she

glances through a children’s book.
After my father had brain
surgery, he forgot how to read. On the page,
he traces the word hippopotamus with his finger.

.....When the hippopotamus
.....jumped, her buttocks made a big hole.
.....“Little by little,” she said.
.....Little by little, she finds a way to be a ballerina.

After twenty seven
minutes, hippopotamus is a new
word for my father again. His right
fingers are cold. His left fingers cannot move.

I want to pour
kerosene into the burning ginkgo leaves. I grab
more apples, hippopotamuses,
and the radio,.....and my father.

I inhale the ashes of scorched
plastic and skin. His hair catches fire. I hear
a sutra like Rakhmaninov’s piano

from an apartment. On the dinning
room table, there is a roasted
chicken. The windows are misted. A woman calls a boy’s name.

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