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To My Brother This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

My mother tended her first yield tender,
with slender fingers interlocked in a cradle
placed over her ripe stomach,
the calluses raised from farm labor
serving as little pillows for her son.

The first time she felt the quake underneath her flesh—
the little feet,
the kicking feet that would someday hold up a man—
she whispered his name,
Masahiro, Masahiro.
The son rising in the east to reflect her soul.

But dawn broke too early,
stretching its scarlet, wet arms over her underwear,
spitting defiance in a rush of water soaking her feet.
On the way to the hospital,
she clutched her splitting stomach,
screaming and pleading to the impatient babe,
too soon, too soon!
But he was too much Icarus,
Too eager to reach the light.

Finally, when the doctors extracted what was inside her,
she heard no sound of a baby boy crying,
only a beeping monitor tracking the beat of an incessant heart,
her heart—
alone.
Let me see him.
With cold hands, the doctors presented the spoiled fruit, the bloody pulp,
and she, like Daedalus, gazed upon her melted son,
filling the hollows of her body, his fetal grave,
with remorse.

Twenty-five years later, on melancholy nights,
when the rain runs tear tracks down the window panes,
when his kicking feet retrace phantom paths,
when his name echoes in her womb,
she says to me, without ever meeting my eyes:

"I am happy to have a daughter."



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