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The brothers do as they’re told and strew plumeria
blossoms on their father’s grave and leave
in the canoe with loose dirt and the hammer
he made from mangrove. The god of moving sand
forms in the shadow of the crabshell
on the seafloor, and the oldest of their mothers
sees the truth coming between the ribs of a yellow-fin,
where the saltwater and crushed lime settles
and turns the red meat white, and who are they
to disagree with the movement the paddles make
when the wind picks branches off the high trees
on Tol? And who are the mothers to speak now
since the brothers have burned the dolphin fins
and spread the ashes in every pocket of clear water?
The god of turtle eggs walks perfectly
from sky to sky and Sirius leans and glares
and bleeds half-blue in the breadfruit season.
The brothers say the last meteor is proof
that the truth can come from the moons
of Mercury, from the burning dots of light
swirling over the stern. The god of the first wave
darkens their skin until something they couldn’t imagine
marks their bodies, something they know
from the water. They invent the face
their father made when he came off the boat
alone, empty-handed. With a knife, the brothers
form the cheeks from the spine of a fish,
and from their own eyes, they make his,
and the movement passes over their hands,
two molds growing hard and taking shape.
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But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.
The vast hinterlands of the Global South’s cities are generating new solidarities and ideas of what counts as a life worth living.
Protests in China are shining a light not only on the country’s draconian population management but restrictions on workers everywhere.