there: sprig on bare elm. ground a hotbed of marigold.
ankle deep in autumn. leaves & pressed cigarettes. above,
horizon in eventide. the time between fire & ash.
mirror image.
______________there: my skin crimson. my father & his
hands crimson. I watch my blood pool around my lips &
smooth the cracks in my cheek with my tongue. boyhood
unfurling the way a fox tail unfurls.
________________________________there: his voice.
grind of mortar on pestle. grate of sedimentary rock &
the gruff of a sparrow wing — talon moving against
the direction the hair grows.
__________________________there: a shooting star.
I asked for another life & was given distance. a thousand
miles of wires & asphalt. see: cicada on driftwood,
exoskeleton abandoned. moth born again from chrysalis,
eyes wide, full.
______________there: his chest. heave of cinder block walls.
salt & the outside in his breath. I watch my father
in the mirror & learn he could tire of running in a way
he could never tire of his hands. & so I remembered.
& so I ran.



Thomas Nguyen