The kind you’re born with, the kind you choose, the kind that teach Catholic school
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My eyes filled again. Filippo came by and murmured, “Think of the little light in your chest,” and somehow I understood him. I don’t know how. I let the light shine.
I snuggled closer to him to show my loyalty. See, I am your grandson. I belong to you. Placing my head lightly against his shoulder, I could smell the oil, the sweat, the Old Milwaukee.
Maybe I write because I want visibility and invisibility, each on my own terms. I want you to accept these paragraphs as photographs from my mind, and I want these photographs to tell you something useful about me. Yet I don’t want you to see me.
But some things are clear: Power begets violence. Violence reinforces power. White Americans damn well know this much.
It’s like arriving at your destination after a long drive, only to realize your mind has been elsewhere the entire time and you have no memory of the lights you stopped at, the turns you made, the glide in and out of traffic. Morning arrives again, and I stand in the kitchen, startled to exist.
The cataracts give her an otherworldly countenance, like a blind prophet who gazes more easily into the past than into the present. She is otherworldly, because she isn’t a part of this time where I dwell — not fully. She floats closer to us and then away again before we can grasp her.
The first time I saw Bak Hoo, she was peeing into a big Del Monte pineapple can in the basement. I froze on the cellar steps at the sight. Bak Hoo was my great-grandma.
I never told you this, because I was worried you would judge me too harshly, but the worms died. There, I said it. My loyal, silent kitchen-scrap eaters, my earthworms, all melted into a puddle of gore and oozing black death, right on our porch.
In three years, I thought, Lia’s chin would reach my crown. Or my crown would touch her chin? At some point the height order reverses itself, and then they leave you. Or you are overtaken by someone’s respiratory droplets in the produce section and you leave first.
He sits on the mattress on the floor and unties his sneakers carefully. He spreads his laces to the sides of his shoes, as if they deserved respect.