When the exhibit went up at Peachtree Center, the Chinese of Atlanta flocked downtown. Jews had been in Henan so close to forever, they weren’t seen as foreign. And we had found an exhibit on China that wasn’t old vases. Jews were Chinese in more ways than food. Migration was not always out of the places our families had fled; it had once been to. Our pantries were “ethnic” not just for the shrimp chips and wood ears, but as well for the matzah. Maybe, when asked, Do you celebrate Christmas?, we were not being checked for Zen or the Buddha. We didn’t say it in so many words. The line between Asia and Europe had blurred.
There are two twin girls in the courtroom. They look very much alike, with fine blonde hair, tightly bound, and short, pretty noses. One can see they have not yet reached the point in life where twins become separate. If they were to trade places, it would not be easy to tell the difference. But do not look at them in this way. A year and a half ago, a curtain fell between them.
I walk to the park drummers sit in a circle under a white tent they have drifted this far way on pacific waves long feathers tucked behind their ears they sweat in soft fringed hides their faces lean and dark
From early morning, Arrayga had been smoking ravenously, cigarette after cigarette, staring blankly at the bedroom ceiling. When she opened the third packet, Kultouma came over and, eyes welling with tears, anxiously inquired: “Arrayga, calm down. What is it, sister? You’re going like a train: puff puff puff. Speak to me, Arrayga. What’s upset you?”
Say Chicken Little was right, that the sky is falling. What I want to know is, will the moon fall too? Will it bounce softly like swiss cheese, or will it crumble like a stale cookie? Do skies bruise? Do they ache? And is the sky a metaphor for all the ills and evils of the world? A testament to how the earth can only hold so much pain and grief? But why would God send a chicken? Would you listen to a chicken? Is the chicken a metaphor for Jesus? Did the Bible mention this and somehow I missed it? Is this because in 6th grade my teacher made me promise Jesus my virginity in a gift basket? Actually, if the sky falls,
The four of them lay on the rug in a circle. They could not be still. They could not shut the hell up. They played blackjack, betting for fistfuls of jerky their dad kept stashed on a kitchen shelf. Only rarely did the girl beat the boys, though she was next to oldest. There were three of them to her one, an equation of quantity and logic, she’d always understood, but also of weight and matter. Ace and face, she threw down her cards, three lucky wins in a row. She whooped and lifted up from the floor, prepared to wrestle an accord, star-flung limbs and static-flared hair bound in constellation. Instead, this late afternoon, the oldest brother detonated the cards in a rush of edges. Red and black diamonds, spades, hearts, and clubs.
When he comes in, you wish you had been killed. Not your brother.
The rusted scent of the metal chair you’re on reminds you of the smell of his blood on your hands, chest, and hair: sweetly pungent with a strong hint of iron.
You start hearing his choked gurgles, see the blood spouting from his mouth. Smelling again the gunpowder-laced air between your body and his. The gurgling stops, his eyes close, and alarm strikes your throat numb, temporarily freezing your screams. His body begins to tremble, violently.