The way a snail crawls out of her shell, cross boundaries almost as soon as I drew them. Could not tell the difference between me and the painting I saw that day, what was me, what was the painting. These days, I begin with a sound. The world is whim; the sun rises every day to date. If the whether is settled, the how is accidental. Some mornings, I begin with email. Is your life good? What do you do with it, and how do you feel about that?
Last night, the sounds of an animal, likely a coyote, scratching against the window, knocking on the wall. This morning the smell of medicinal herbs, bark and root being cooked by my mother, I stay umbilical corded to my families. Dance when I turn on the radio or commune beneath black strobe-ing lights without liquor. And when he says that his accomplishment is as much his as it is ours, I think of how I like all my doors ajar.
Woke up and ate dim sum and eggs and broiled cabbage which my mom assured me was good for my digestive system , then I washed it down with orange juice. I rise into the sky, fly across county lines. This makes me feel like a slow learner, the kind that would exasperate an average teacher. I have to return it in the same condition it was given to me, clean, innocent and pure.
So, let me try to translate. How many generations does it take to heal? By writing through a rupture, can one hope to get across it? At the same time, I like ruptures. How do we navigate these buried maps? How do we locate our own native meridians? How do we measure our own time and space? My aim to become lost. Humans spent years measuring things, and every measurement we have ever made has been inaccurate.
Every measurement taken with the heart. My uncle had his uncle draw a map of the old estate. Marking where his grandfather buried bags of silver. Each vein is an edit. Here, under this tree. There, by the stone. My uncle tried twice to recover them, once in the eighties, once in the nineties. But the land had changed. The mountains witnessed his digging back into time. In my fury—I am more woman, more a part of things, more articulate and unafraid.
In the nineties, after the second failed attempt, he started a business. We measure our story by the number of other stories we run into, collaborate with, collide with.
Last I heard, his business was successful, and he was wealthy, so he climbed Mt. What if lineage is a line of lit fuel? My dad died from cancer three years ago. Then the historical commentary. Who wrote what about this herb in which century. How they disagreed, and argued about how to use this herb.
At night, the ripples of wind. Lines being blurred, being bent. Even knowing that each wave erases what came before Hopefully, some lucky seekers will arrive there: Before he passed, my uncle held ceremony in our living room.
The textbook makes no judgment, only presents the arguments over the centuries. The readers get to decide what they think, who they side with. Well I am the first born child of a first born child of a first born child. That is a line of lit fuel. But then the work breaks down again: Inseminations recombine fragments, and as such.
This feels like a contraction. Stanley Kunitz said that the heart breaks and breaks, and it breaks by living. How long can I sit and be attentive when the world is blowing up? What is a self-portrait, other than an attempt to breathe between shifting your bones? I live in a world of blowing up. What is the recombinant energy created between languages geopolitical economics, cultural representations, concepts of community.
The grapefruit we are both eating, the dirt we both washed off of our hands first. I get it, I say, I get it.
There is fire, new registers of aliveness. I understand my name in any language. My life is never my own. No small wonder that I feel damaged at times. What word could mark the change in me?
What word could help me get to the other side? What word keep me, what word cling? What word free and now need prune? I do not want to do things alone anymore. What are the consequences of silence? I love the peace, concentration, and light that silence affords me. Silence out of anger potentially preserve relationships if only used as a holding ground Forever on the verge but never honoring enough forward momentum.
Better to jump into a volcano. I can hear your heart beating in my throat. How such a decision does not have to equal silence. The sunlight is so bright up there. Ching-In currently lives in Milwaukee and is involved in union organizing and direct action. Hand, Susu Pianchupattana, Serena W.