The next three thousand words are selections of writing I did for a class I had this Fall. I am slowly learning, and hope to return with better pieces to make the most of this. A lot of my writing dealt with religion, home, and expectation. If you read this blog, you’re probably used to that. Thank you for following my journey from my first “chapbook” (not really) to my first college works.
The title comes from the fact that I did delete a Pinkerton reference in the fiction piece, somewhere in the attempt to copy Borges (we read a lot of Le Guin and Borges–the comment was that there was too much extraordinariness in the listing of lives and beings, and I agreed, we have to dwell somewhere more common at times) but without the experience and knowledge to actually understand what a worthwhile life is like, but I’m getting there. I don’t really spend much time publishing or sending out things (I don’t do this at all), but I’ve been writing a lot lately, so here.
I vomit upon the recitation of my first love song. My tenderness spills on hardwood floor as the school bells began to ring. The gutting came easy and lingered insidious inside an adolescent body. Each one of my growth spurts involved the opening of tight things: this the last time I open a mouth. Everything from this point onwards is over. I extend an open invitation for my parents to watch the live death of their daughter. If her body slips from the dining room chair it would then be unexpected, if her body slips from a moving car door it would then be unexpected, if her body slips from a gutter it would then be unexpected. Mother watches me stare at fresh carcass on every area of reflection. I stare back at her knowing we share lonely gods and that one must bury the other. We exchange no words. Another symptom leads grammar to betray me. With a newly-purchased lighter I douse all my memoirs in fire. Each and every account: the first time I touched a thing and then myself, when I fell in love and tried to fall out of a window and believed in the fallout again. Destruction is an irreversible thing. I swear I did not ask to be a thing created. If I could have formed words in the womb I would say my last sorry; this being the only acceptable timeline.
Currently, there is no end to this ruthlessness. A girl praises me for these fires and shows me her wrists. We learn to spit open and forget how to forgive. Entering clean rooms to ask for correction, I sing the inheritance of what it means to be a girl alive. Know on these streets I learn nothing gentle about love, only about the body and how it is meant to harvest. So this is the secret of a well-formed woman. I open my skin for strangers when made to beg and know I am grown when men tell me I am. It’s archaic but necessary: say nothing when one is bleeding, disconnect myself from all my fathers. See how I braid my sister’s hair while feeling nothing and let every word about myself slip through our stories. More family matters: I ask my mother why she wanted a daughter and do not listen to the answer.
One day I might come to disembowel what is left of me, plating it like ritual. My story is girls made myth. My story is every woman forced to reinvent to survive. I am living mystery. I am the girl. I put my head down and listen to a world that I swear has forgotten me. Let the slosh of my headblood murmur against its vacancy while I pat my skirt down on the outskirts of a courtyard. If I could live longer there would be a sad song about this. Breathe in a heat that is not a body’s and let the world pull something closer to me. Skinning all that I am I take my girlhood and lift up its bloodsoaked body. One day I will write poems about being in love again.
At Eden, we walked on all fours while God showed us the world. God was nothing like what I had dreamed: discrete and crooked, immaculately withdrawn and barely articulate (perhaps due to the grandeur that they had fashioned, or the way they feared that we knew too much and could only understand so little). With fervor they told us that everything that shall ever be is intentional. Tracing against a sandbank with their bare feet, they hummed against the hours and gave us our first and only glimpse of the world before us. They plotted everything from the burning atmosphere to the magma and concrete cradled underneath their heels to the precious things that people would uncover in time yet do nothing of interest with. Everything blackened and we watched celestial things burn up above us, strips of light and bird feathers against forest fires. “You are everything,” God explained, outstretched, each syllable the diameter of the moon and the culling of light receding and returning from day to day. “Falling, within, and above.”
It was nighttime once more when God’s words had settled. We engulfed the place in flames again. I crawled into her ribcage for the first time–the other being. I nested myself in, suffocating within the pressure and feeling my bones constrict, safe. Together, we made a rhythm out of the world. Each of her breaths paced with the uncountable insects, the softness of her lips and of dew. She is the only other, here, against the innumerable world. For eternity we do it all: the smell of pine cones and her hair of shallow fires, the stutter of God still echoing somewhere inside, our attempts at recreating the map of the world with charcoal on ravine walls. At some point, we gave each other our first names.
We would shoot up salt while boring holes into large mountaintops. Sometimes, I would look back and she would suddenly turn smaller–or her skin would char, reflecting the blackened sky. At snowfall, each flake would level themselves on her shoulders and I would gaze at the plume of her with every pause. She said things that made little sense. While walking past civilizations she told me that she wanted her name to always start with a vowel. She further explained this desire would come whenever possible, non-participatory antecedent to the languages that would not have its equivalent. I said that sounded nice.
Exhuming meaning from valleys and finding nothing but sharp things, we tread onwards. I became a rock and allowed myself to be swallowed up, governed by every crest and quivering at the collections of grain and dust. Somewhere here, I lost her. God told us “we were to become everything, every experience, every body, every object, until no visible end” and I asked God if I was her. God shook their head, “the act of being is difficult for one, no? You two shall comprise everything, one never the other. Everything, every person, every living being, every ounce of morality, all that ever was, between you.” Then God counted “one, two” and then went into an incomprehensible tangent about the bowels of the earth and the crevices above and was gone like all gods go. I waited.
I saw her again on the islet, back bleached with sand. Her body is larger, more whole. She swallows the ocean ahead, kissing every being on it and spitting seawater. This may be the last time we talk.
“It will take a long time.”
“Yes,” I answer to our journey. In this time I race to be every bit of sand so I could live this life longer. We fall into one moment and the next so quickly. I seek to know her. I press my forehead to hers, quiet against the world. But here we are, chosen by God to become everything and anything. We felt the waves of the ocean, her the foam and I the sediments crashing unto another. Our foreheads parted, her hair indistinguishable from the first time I shut my eyes. I would know only her. And at that moment, we were almost each other.
My eyes culled the skyline as a broken shepherd in West Asia, become two-thousand years old to be cut by a stranger in California, saw myself crucified and me crucifying myself and mistakenly caused this undying image of who God was and promised immortality to the mortal, marched until my bones gave in and was the grass where they laid the bodies on, lived a crippled life with more voracity than the lives I’ve lived beforehand in elitist Europe, became a lost girl listening to my songs in a rotting pile of metal in South America. All this time I would know when she was there. There would be moments where I distinctly remember being nine of the people in the room but never the other. The last one was a man dying of old age, chased out of town for a counterfeit sédula. (He said sorry in the same way she did in our last encounter.)
There is one thing we believe in aside from God: it is oblivion. We had both drawn the improbability of perpetuity in this gaseous ball and would call the end of it once the earth was getting bad enough. The plan was to end it all if we lived a life that was not worth living. It had not come yet.
This fixation on human obsolescence had impacted me in many ways: as war commanders, immaculate UN peacemakers (incredibly reliant as I had stayed a virgin throughout state school) in the 21st century, as anyone with a notion for peace. Many times, an infant without my thoughts gone too soon, a suburban mother born to birth. I was next fixated on this idea of love and ends that I wondered if the world knew that God had to wait, too. Still, I would close my eyes and live again.
As I lived, the more I grew disconcerted with immortality. I was taking the train and became acutely aware of all people next to me: the lives I would live too anxious to take a phone call, the boy I was texting a stereotypical hopeless romantic, a tired businesswoman the world was far too unfair to. I forgot about her, almost. I concentrated on the buzzing of my heart, the mannerisms and conversations I had repeated a thousand times. How the smallest interaction stalled my speed of thought. I touched myself in the college dorm and called out a name that was not hers, and for the first time did not remember that I could also be the boy or she, he. I met him in a high school walkout and lived the rest of my life with him and there was nothing left I had to say about her. Each life has many things to say about God or nothing at all. I wait and see why.
A military man sews—of all things—a pair of white socks. He comes to our front porch for the first time in years and I put my forehead on his and get married in a lighthouse. (I think I have been waiting for her for far longer, but I begin finding understanding in these moments.)
I am deteriorating concrete, a brick laid by human hand in the 23rd century. A bomb of something noxious and instant wipes the things in front of me and I lay a bit longer in this life for the ones who need home.
More lives pass and I feel growing parallels in the universe. We are best friends and the young boy takes my hand and we run from gunfire. Many unrequited yet still invested (with or without alcohol). Shelter in the ruins of a foreign country in a rainstorm. I understand why they write coming of age films. Another life I spend dormant, mountains hiked through and edged with the marks of humanity. A teenage carves a line from Howl onto the foot of the summit. I understand why they say teenagers write terribly, and then defend those teenagers with my life. Several times I saw suffering as a connective link. Many times the love was willing to wait and others had me refuse. I could go a million lives without feeling what I had felt but then it would always find itself again, sometimes stronger than ever before.
For four straight lives I feel myself skeptical of the bodies; like I was alone from the beginning and had dreamt her and the maps on sand and become the philosopher who said every feeling was merely insanity and I tasted the sea from a villa then a bridge then one where I hit myself with glass so hard I bled out on the floor then one on the crests of a boat where I found a hole down and threw myself in. In the pitch black I would hear it again: the tether of my body to hers, loose but recurring, the best love I had a teenage one and her name only a rhythmic, vowel-doused beat.
I woke up in a crude campsite in a white mountain, my eyes barely gripping onto my periphery. I saw God this time. The slurred one. My body felt the lightness of the ground and I asked if she was the mountain, and God said she was the valley. My heart dropped and waited as it did in the limitless past, her the Bible I had read and all its falsitudes and parenthetical realities. I counted the times I had loved myself more than her and all the lifetimes we have yet to explore and the bodies in which we were grooming and all the misplaced emotions and incalculable destruction.
As my bones thinned I was in the body of a 37-year-old female in the north and I watched the sky murmur into rapid explosions. I died from the cold and was reborn in landlock where I died from marching to the sea. I realize that God was never there on the 28th life. I am so obsessed with the ocean I write poetry about it and throw myself into it (ironically), and the next time I am so obsessed with space I throw a car at it to express my displeasure (unironically). I shout at the crests and jump off a metropolitan skybridge: I quicken each life and turn suburb into hellfire. Whenever I can, I pick up the microphone or the scroll shouting extremist things into the lives I am currently not in, and suddenly feel omnipotent. This is love in its hastiest form. Then I am a quiet object again, and I feel her thumping. It was then that I realized the lives we lived in were endless, and that the individuality of each would come and go but their words and lectures longed and lasted and for eons, they would stare up at the sky and etch it on bigger than themselves. This is love if you could live in repetition.
I see the people I have loved and make time for myself. There is a song for patience and I am it. I see why everything I have lived for is divided into love (or sex) or war for the sake of love. Perhaps I have lived all these for her. No time was ever one I felt like I had to walk away from.
My body tethers to an ancient genderless thing and I listen to the very beginning of the world. Another being on marble and emerald. I walk closer, aware of every mortal life I had lived. They pull an image of me, larger than me, of many faces but still the one and traces a map of the world. I burn up the unreachable atmosphere, let my own vision gray and wane but succumb to the smoldering of the world with them. I rest my forehead against theirs, searching.
My eyes open and I am eighteen. The world is not at war this time and I walk across mild rainfall on a Thursday afternoon. I am reading a story.
We pay no bills. We pay as little as possible. We are small Asians
shipped straight to curbside from metropolis or farmside. Anyway,
the tourists can’t tell which is which. The words are all enjambed,
slurred. Here we believe in the American dream. We cook with discount
deal silver, flick rice into our mouth with thumbs. Pray in English
to bless this meal then forget my mother tongue. Our home is stocked:
corned beef, Netflix subscriptions, 5 gallon water bottles, whitening soap.
I ride to school in a packed family van past streetside funerals, everyday
escapism from the slums I was born in to the one we swear we would
never breathe in again. I’m raised Roman Catholic and to ignore
the taps of street children on our car doors. Do you remember everything
we learned? To trust no government. To bring honor here. To dream
vacations in the west. To forgive all my war wounds. I went to Christmas
Eve Mass in the corridors of a megamall and listened to Mariah Carey
speaking over god. Mother retraces our family history–every distant
relative on the walls of our staircase from Mariana in New Jersey
with the big car and white boyfriend to Raymond in Canada who was
on a taping for The Late Show once. (If he were here he would show us
the YouTube video.) It is existing in no space but my family’s shelter,
reaping in my Spanish blood in the west and uncovering the brownness
underneath the east sun. When you visit, I ask for you to take your shoes
off and stretch our arms to remold ourselves. This being a New Year.
Do you wish you were in California? To no longer be bedspacers or
have to go to Mass. To ride on Amtraks and ditch Beep cards. To eat
overpriced convenience store food while people ask us why we have
no accent at all. Where else will we find the smog of another people for
us to consume? I am the Asian smelling like nothing but sun with
white names and whiter skin. I want empty highways and more rewritten
history. I am the boxer and the President and the housemaid. Near four
hundred years of this repetition to sound white on the telephone. I am
that word you know how to say fuck for and the fuck in this secondary
fever. I am raised in this war for the hundred million people who would
come to die only in this heat.