207th Bone

Poems by Zhou Li

Translated from the Chinese by Xi Nan.

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At exactly five minutes past midnight, when his fever was at its highest point, the dream began with an image of bombs falling over a distant Miami. As the dream continued, he realized that he was no longer scared watching the bombs drop, but paying close attention, he saw the bombs uncurl and turn into people. These people came down landing on their feet like cats, absorbing the impact in their knees and then standing upright. In this dream, Habib noticed that the people were of all shapes and sizes, and he recognized some of them. He saw his father uncurling from the shape of an H-bomb and land with a thud. He saw his sister Farah and her husband too. And not far behind them, he saw his two little nephews land with big smiles on their faces. Then Habib saw one bomb transform into Sebastian Montes right before reaching the ground. His old friend landed on his feet, kneeling, then he turned upright and walked away. At this point in the dream, he recognized almost all of the people. They were all there — his family, friends, and acquaintances — even people he had seen in the streets and in bars. But despite who they were, they all fell as bombs, then after landing on their feet, walked away like clay figures brought to life.

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