Waiting for the smoke to clear

Tillman Miller

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Photograph: Arun Roisri

A man in the Lao jungle used to tell me stories about the war. We’d sit at a rosewood table eating sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves and he’d smile and speak while a standalone fan slowly spun. His first memory from infancy was the sound of American bombs falling on limestone mountains. His name was Visoun and he was so enchanted with this detail — the bombs blasting the karst of the mountain caves — that I dared not ask a question or reach for a second lotus leaf.

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