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In Memory of Xiong Huang

ISSUE:  Winter 2009

who disappeared from Shanghai and whose body, his brother believes,
is now on display in New York City in an exhibition of plastinated cadavers

In some province a hemisphere from here
you tapped at your grandmother’s kneecap, her elbow
crooked in bags of bok choy, bamboo shoots,
and rapeseed oils. You shouldered her skins
of bean curd all the way back to market,
offered coins from your pocket up
towards a farmhand she paltered for bargains.

Of you and that day, your brother remembers this most:
how your diaphragm shook as if sorry
for the quick of her tongue. How each capillary
and joint grieved the reach of her teeth. And he swears

he sees your red wince in the subway ads,
this bus stop poster where you have become a mannequin
of tendons, a mock Thinker pumped with tinctures
and phosphorescent balms, cured,

desiccated in silicon gas. Your flayed fist
against a mandible, your brother lays hands
on your knuckles. He traces aloud
the syllables of your given name. Imagines
the sound of a boy’s now ossified heart.


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