Allen Jih and Adam Vines

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The day I was born
my father dropped off
his workers at a job site
and never picked them up.
Years later, while watching
cherry blossoms fall, I heard
a sound from the long weekends
of mixing mud for my father: a trowel
buttering a brick then tamping the course plumb.
The workers were building a wall around an abandoned
building. I smelled the lime, saw the young man pulling
and pushing his hoe through grey mortar. One of them was
singing in Spanish, his shirt with two roosters slashing spurs, their wings
spread, red and golden, a stalemate of feathers. The old women practicing tai chi
on the other side of the field recited the poses in unison: grasping the sparrow’s tail,
strumming the lute, then needle at the bottom of the sea. The sandwich I ate smelled of
plastic.
After the doctor told my father I was a boy, he began collecting bullets from the Civil
War. No one
told him a kid might not want Minie balls, multi-grooves, cone cavities with a teat for his
fifth birthday.