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To my many siblings, the alive and lingering. 

He cooks sticky rice cakes, brings orchids
and forsythias in from the car, hangs that
octagonal golden charm on the front door
to ward off evil spirits—all in preparation
for the Lunar New Year. The house is clean,
though only in the living room. That’s okay,
guests won’t enter the others. While his baby
wails and he lulls her with shhh, the TV plays
in a tongue he has yet to tame: A 55-year-old
woman was punched to the ground in Chinatown. 
A poppy bloomed on her nose—another bullet
point on a list longer than all rivers of a motherland.
It’s supposed to protect us, he tells his kids, who stare
at the just-hung, teal-eyed talisman. Then fireworks fly.                         Bang.


John Nguyen is a sophomore in Davenport College.

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