After my mother and father fight, my father takes my hand and we walk down to the Mississippi where he smokes Camel cigarettes. He flicks his ashes away from me. He rarely says my name. All day on TV, I watch monks in Saigon douse themselves in gasoline and light their saffron robes on fire. When they ignite, they do not cry out. I study their silence to comprehend how a tongue turns into flame.
Poem from The Clerk’s Tale, reprinted with permission of Houghton Mifflin Company