The Decision...I wiped my hands on my pinaforenow sullied and stainednot crisp or pressedas it had been before...
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The Decision…I wiped my hands on my pinaforenow sullied and stainednot crisp or pressedas it had been before…

-Muse

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I paid the taxi driver, got out with my suitcase, surveyed my surroundings, and just as I was turning to ask the driver something or get back into the taxi and return forthwith to Chillán and then to Santiago, it sped off without warning, as if the somewhat ominous solitude of the place had unleashed atavistic fears in the driver's mind. For a moment I too was afraid. I must have been a sorry sight standing there helplessly with my suitcase from the seminary, holding a copy of Farewell's Anthology in one hand. Some birds flew out from behind a clump of trees. They seemed to be screaming the name of that forsaken village, Querquén, but they also seemed to be enquiring who: quién, quién, quién. I said a hasty prayer and headed for a wooden bench, there to recover a composure more in keeping with what I was, or what at the time I considered myself to be. Our Lady, do not abandon your servant, I murmured, while the black birds, about twenty-five centimetres in length, cried quién, quién, quién. Our Lady of Lourdes, do not abandon your poor priest, I murmured, while other birds, about ten centimetres long, brown in colour, or brownish, rather, with white breasts, called out, but not as loudly, quién, quién, quién, Our Lady of Suffering, Our Lady of Insight, Our Lady of Poetry, do not leave your devoted subject at the mercy of the elements, I murmured, while several tiny birds, magenta, black, fuchsia, yellow and blue in colour, wailed quién, quién, quién, at which point a cold wind sprang up suddenly, chilling me to the bone.

-Roberto Bolaño

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Reminiscing in the drizzle of Portland, I notice the ring that’s landed on your finger, a massiveinsect of glitter, a chandelier shining at the endof a long tunnel. Thirteen years ago, you hid the hurtin your voice under a blanket and said there’s two kindsof women—those you write poems aboutand those you don’t. It’s true. I never brought youa bouquet of sonnets, or served you haiku in bed.My idea of courtship was tapping Jane’s Addictionlyrics in Morse code on your window at three A.M., whiskey doing push-ups on my breath. But I workedwithin the confines of my character, castas the bad boy in your life, the Magellanof your dark side. We don’t have a past so muchas a bunch of electricity and liquor, powernever put to good use. What we had togethermakes it sound like a virus, as if we caughtone another like colds, and desire was merelya symptom that could be treated with soupand lots of sex. Gliding beside you now, I feel like the Benjamin Franklin of monogamy, as if I invented it, but I’m still not immuneto your waterfall scent, still haven’t developedantibodies for your smile. I don’t know how longregret existed before humans stuck a word on it.I don’t know how many paper towels it would taketo wipe up the Pacific Ocean, or why the lightof a candle being blown out travels fasterthan the luminescence of one that’s just been lit, but I do know that all our huffing and puffinginto each other’s ears—as if the brain was a trickbirthday candle—didn’t make the silenceany easier to navigate. I’m sorry all the kissesI scrawled on your neck were writtenin disappearing ink. Sometimes I thought of youso hard one of your legs would pop outof my ear hole, and when I was sleeping, you’d pressyour face against the porthole of my submarine.I’m sorry this poem has taken thirteen yearsto reach you. I wish that just once, instead of skiddingoff the shoulder blade’s precipice and joyridingover flesh, we’d put our hands away like chocolateto be saved for later, and deciphered the calligraphyof each other’s eyelashes, translated a paragraphfrom the volumes of what couldn’t be said.

-Jeffrey McDaniel

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Can I tell my daughter that I loved her father? This was the man who rubbed my feet at night. He praised the food that I cooked. He cried honestly when I brought out trinkets I had saved for the right day, the day he gave me my daughter, a tiger girl.How could I not love this man? But it was a love of a ghost. Arms that encircled but did not touch. A bowl full of rice but without my appetite to eat it. No hunger. No fullness.Now Saint is a ghost. He and I can now love equally. He knows the things I have been hiding all these years. Now I must tell my daughter everything. That she is a daughter of a ghost. She has no chi . This is my greatest shame. How can I leave this world without leaving her my spirit?So this is what I will do. I will gather together my past and look. I will see a thing that has already happened. The pain that cut my spirit loose. I will hold that pain in my hand until it becomes hard and shiny, more clear. And then my fierceness can come back, my golden side, my black side. I will use this sharp pain to penetrate my daughter's tough skin and cut her tiger spirit loose. She will fight me, because this is the nature of two tigers. But I will win and give her my spirit, because this is a way a mother loves her daughter.I hear my daughter speaking to her husband downstairs. They say words that mean nothing. They sit in a room with no life in it. I know a thing before it happens. She will hear the table and vase crashing on the floor. She will come upstairs and into my room. Her eyes will see nothing in the darkness, where I am waiting between the trees.

-Amy Tan

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