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Tito Manuel Has A Cousin Drinking Water on the Death March

Albert Abonado

Since I did not recognize you as my relative
I thought you were made of rivers

because I could taste only metal and dust
and believed you were a body of water consuming

himself for his own pleasure. Forgive me
for not greeting you in the customary way

one does when discovering a distant relative
surrounded by an invading military.

What is the cost of water? Before now,
I had never accused a river of hiding

in the shape of the boy I once watched drain
the blood out of a chicken by hanging it

upside down, but I touched your arm
to investigate your source, to learn

how to conjure an ocean from myself despite
my concern about your ability to dissolve me

since I have become too familiar
with my own salt. Worse yet, you

could have been absorbed by the ground
before you told me everything

you knew about water.
What did I know about shaping

wet soil into your mouth?
Had you been consumed by

the trees, could you have conjugated
the names of the fruit to which

you had been dispersed?
Could you have told me then

from which tree
your body hung?

Albert Abonado

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