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  • There was a willow tree in a park that was called willow park near by our house a ranch house like many other ranch houses in Anaheim in sunburst California in the green lawns of summer and sprinklers and blue chlorinated swimming pools and asphalt parking lots of supermarkets where sliding glass doors opened into an air conditioned purgatory where apples were red like snow whites apples in the Disney cartoon apples that tasted as my grandmother would remark like cellophane.

    There was my grandmother in her apron frying the sweet potato in coconut oil in the kitchen the limey linoleum and orange daffodil wallpaper and the beefy broth of pho spiked with star anise cinnamon cardamom and those vermicelli noodles in blue-china bowls and lacquered chopsticks that had been secreted all the way from Vietnam a small reminder of old world luxuries in a world of convenience and fastness and there was my grandmother standing in the kitchen with the flies buzzing and her garlic lemongrass hands holding the big cleaver my grandmother still alive with that softness-watery-onion eyes I see her still in my dreams and I want to touch her but it is like a holding a halo nothing but vapors.

    There were the summers when my mother would visit in late august once a year for one week my mother would visit her hair was so dark and thick like clouds before the rain the scent of her perfume lingering on the pillows after she left it felt like stone swallowed whole a boulder so hard and hurting I would ride my bike to the willow tree and I would hide inside its tumble of leaves and I would weep and weep until I became limp and hoarse and tired I would walk my bicycle back to our house and I would vow that I would never be fooled again and that next time I would not fall for loving because I hated her I loved her I hated her and the next year she visited it became easier and the next until it made no difference whether she left or stayed I no longer wept I no longer cared the boulder inside of me it had grown into a mountain nothing could harm me now not even love.
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