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Oxygen—died on March 12, 2012. At

first, it came in heavy green canisters.

Then a large rolling machine that

pushed air day and night. When my

mother changed her clothes, she

had to take the tube out of her nose.

She stopped to catch her breath, as

if breath were constantly in motion,

as if it could be chased. I'm not sure

when I began to notice her panic

without the oxygen, in the way we don't

notice a leaf turning red or an empire

falling. One day, it just appears, as if

it had been there all along. Like the

hospice staff with their papers, bags

of medicine, their garlands of silence.

Like grief, the way it dangles from

everything like earrings. The way grief

needs oxygen. The way every once in

a while, it catches the light and starts

smoking. The way my grief will die with

me. The way it will cleave and grow

like antlers. 

Oxygen (from Obit)

Victoria Chang


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