Another Decade, Another Mouth

baba tells us the story while we crack salted watermelon
seeds between our teeth. handful after handful, dipping

back into the bowl—roll, scatter, sharp clap as the front
tooth bucks into one black shell, another. Who wants

to make a decision like that? he asks. the crack, the salt,
the air parting as wài pó enters the room as she was

back then, hair streaked with silver, mouth a smudge
of blues and pinks. the needle to save her would cost

twelve thousand yuan—at the hospital, they stood, made wet by
grief. the lamp yellowed wài pó’s wrists. the room, airless.
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