I must admit that none of this thrills me.
When at times, haunted by shadowy memory, I grow tired of trees, I am
reminded that there is no hierarchy of grief, or at least: Grief cannot
love you back.
Despite its having lodged in my body; despite it having peppered the
marrow of my bones.
The encyclopedia does not help: Volume after cloth-bound volume
spilling out its ordered chronicles.
Here is a story: A man makes a broken glass whole again.
Here is a story: He lights a fire from a pile of ice.
I hear rain rattling on the metal roof. I hear disembodied voices, the
chanting of children.
I see, for a moment, the world in full color.
I feel the calloused skin of your hand on my cheek.
Before he dies, the philosopher says: "It is too much. All this. Too
Are you sure that you cannot love me back? Are you sure that none of
In the evenings, we would retire to the back room to play pool or to
deal cards on the green felted table.
Or he would read to me aloud from the encyclopedia. We did well to make
the most of it, those hours.
Page after page, his voice reverberating in my bones. In reverie, he
might call my name, call it softly like the burbling of a mountain
stream. Or call it out sharply, like the clap of a hand on a wooden
Look here, typhoon season in South Korea. Look here, the monsoon trough
spawns a tropical depression.
Or at least, that is how the story goes.
Why doesn't any of this help?
We go back to O. Or specifically, to Ottoman Empire.
Page after page: We are trying to escape
by ox-cart in the heat of the summer. Or we are shuffling along dusty
country roads, exhausted and fevered. Or we are barefoot through
we are rounded up and hanged in rows like magpies.
Here is a story: We are so hungry we have
eaten the cardboard identity tags that we wear around our necks. In our
desperation, we have swallowed our own names.
None of this helps. You are not coming back.
I wake from a dream in which I turn my car around a sharp curve on a
precipice and abruptly find ocean. I wake from a dream in which I am
gazing at my own severed head, my lips still hanging open.
Here is a story: Empire falls.
Here is a story: They line us up. We hear
the sound of our hearts beating and the drops of our hot blood on the
Here is a story: You are not coming back.
I must admit none of this thrills me.