poem

After a while the cab pulls onto the highway, stops behind a line of cars waiting to pay a toll before continuing the twenty miles out to the airport. Behind them the city is hazy, the pollution like a winding sheet. By the side of the road a young boy walks barefoot, a dirty piece of cloth wrapped around his waist, in the distance the heat tremulous on the asphalt. The highway is a long shadeless strip of concrete miles from anywhere. Slowly the cars inch toward the toll, the drivers ready, the coins beating in their hands. Wonder where the boy came from. Watch as he smiles to himself, holding something close to his chest that wriggles and flashes in the sun, his ribcage like a prow. Stare. Stare harder. The driver rolls down the window, his foot on the gas. Then see it, the treasure in his arms. The boy is holding a live fish, the thing more than a foot long, his right hand lovingly stroking its pale belly, its skin speckled with iridescence, and he is walking down the side of a highway in Vietnam as though he has all the time in the world.

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