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In Extremis

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You don’t get everything back.
Is today morning or night? The radio voice says
the composer is changing the place home is.
When they try to put a tube down her throat,
the woman beside me sobs. Nurses probe
a vein as she thrashes, call the Hmong translator.

Once a boy told me, in Laos he sat in a tree
all night. Father pay me dollar for every man I’m shooting.
When there’s water to cross, the fish, caught,
get needled through gill slits. Down the dark hall,
machines bleat at each bed. Eyes open and shut: flashes,
detachment, vitreous gel. Her son, seven years old,
comes after school, peels oranges, watches football,
changing the place home is.
Source: Poetry (April 2012)

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of Poetry magazine

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In Extremis

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