Fortune

A child in your province
in the throes of war,
soldiers rounding up men
from the neighborhood
and shooting them against
the school fence; or sticking
their bayonets into babies
and pigs. This is the stuff
of old black-and-white
movies, of telenovelas—
except it’s all true. How
did you cross that endless
grid of paddies, those
years of steamed rice
and snails fished out
with the ends of safety
pins? Where did you learn
to hold your back so straight,
to cut and sew a perfect
princess seam? I have just
a handful of pictures where
your neck is the most elegant
thing against the landscape,
where drape after drape
of cloth clings to you
or bravely flies as a flag
does in its own country.
Tell me, what was it
that laid you so low,
that spun the wheel
again all the way
to the other side?

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