One day our father sent my brother
to a monastery
to improve his temperament.
I was not allowed to go.
One day my brother came back,
and told me all about it.
He told me that when he arrived the monk was waiting
draped in blue, rolling a coin
in the valleys of his fingers,
that when he asked what he was doing
the monk said
what you want to know.
He told me when the monk flipped the coin, a deranged god flew
out. But before it could escape, the monk sucked it in his mouth
and let it go.
He told me then it flattened into a Tibetan kite whirling
happily in the air, exuding
the correct amount of rainfall.
He told me when it was his turn to try,
an animal burst from a fleck of rice:
a bone white dog, eyes cloudy with slag.
It’s like origami the monk said,
but you must kiss your masterpieces so
the paper corners melt
away. These are the rules of childmaking:
they must come to life
but only a little.
But my brother did not tell me everything.
He did not tell me he forgot to kiss the dog.
He did not tell me that in his forgetting
it cancered, too many cells in its mouth
to the floor.
He did not tell me about the umami
crackle of claws he shaved off
its feet, and
he did not tell me that when the dog ravished the
temple, the monk burst in, shattered
its knees and farmed the splinters back into rice.
He told me
that after that “certain outburst”
he forgave himself, and with the monk’s guidance
learned to smelt life in correct amounts.
he told me in the mornings after months of practice
they laughed with my brother’s paper oxen, who bellowed light on spools
of string and plowed rows in the sky
which he filled with our mother’s poppies,
that their pollen powdered the oxen
He told me our father visited one day
unannounced, that he asked him how
he was, that father said
the sky smells so good
and proud of you in that order.
He did not tell me
alone in the temple,
dad syringed his own lungs with opium
that above the oxen moaned,
that as blue flaked off his tarred fingers,
stampede almost killed me.
He did not tell me that before he slept dad spat out a
to clean his breath; that it melted
in the rain and creamed in puddles.
He did not tell me that in the morning after dad left,
the kites flapped on the ground
waterlogged and heavy,
that in thick white puddles,
paper oxen had fallen
that up above
the monk floated,
hanged by the neck on a kite string
head cocked to the side, a questioning dog.
He did not tell me he eyed the new satellite
and imagined rolling him in the
valleys of his fingers.
I asked him how he felt being home.
He told me that the trip was fulfilling
and that he’d learned all he needed.
Across from me,
he splits a grain of rice
and fingers out the bone.