we used to run through the house to find you
turning the corners of every room
opening the closet doors
looking under beds
all out of breath
but there you’d be always
in the quiet places we’d go to last
out by the garden repotting an overgrown aloe vera
mending one of your dresses on the bottom step
and you’d look at us with those eyes
as you took off your apron
and placed your hand on our faces one by one
stained with earth
cooled our cheeks
kissed where we hurt
I went to the ocean today and sat
at a point on the shore where you can see
the tip of the lighthouse that we’d walk to on Sundays
from the top
so high above the ground you
can’t tell if you’re looking at the sky or a pale
sea as if
from such a distance the horizon concedes
its stance on binaries
and undoes its ancient boundaries
am I far enough from you?
I pretend you still ask about me
Does he eat well?
What’s he reading?
though you’d know
we meet in dreams now
you leave the light on
it’s almost morning
you’re waiting on the porch
humming something secular
I walk up from the street
to your chair and lay
my head upon your breasts
worlds full and vast
while you weep
and make me
I believe in the sand beneath my toes
You called me
from the edge of the cliff
where the rock formations look
like little mountains with cliffs of their own
and white arrows pointing up
painted by those who came before
would lead me to you
We took the same route last Christmas
and at the bottom
you took a picture of me leaning against the jagged backdrop
shirtless, looking for my shoes
and set it as your phone's wallpaper
for a month
You told me that the beach is your safe place because everything written in the sand
washes away before you can turn around to read it
That nothing is permanent but the
perennial rhythm of waves crashing
about the one who stands alone on the shore
tasting it in the air
watching its endless succession
letting it swallow all sound
we could put a hole in the ground, throw seeds and dance for rain
Shine like a new pin Sundays
no new fronds
This photo, capturing a characteristic wrinkled Oxford and contrived nonchalance, was taken one month ago in Hong Kong. I took a flight back home the next morning, and read the following quote on the plane. I've been pondering it since.
"But he was also to be my first lesson in the strange phenomenon that besets all of us who travel to strange places and found our own assumptions and lessons proven not just wrong, but opposite. It is very easy to be intellectually brave in such locations, where the academy, one’s peers, and the entirety of Western history and religion feel not only irrelevant but misguided. But unlearning things is much more difficult than learning them, and even the most courageous of minds will find itself tempted to retreat back into the known at the first opportunity."
-Hanya Yanagihara, The People in the Trees
We rented a car in Okinawa, my first time driving internationally (rather, on the opposite side of the road I'm accustomed to)—which I did without harming myself or others! We navigated through sudden tollways, turned up the wrong side of roundabouts to the mild panic of hotel concierge, ascended cliffs to greet Manzamo, the ancient, calcified proboscidean. We ate everything purple and brown and the emerald of sea grapes, and drank in everything touched by the bite of bitter melon. At night we'd swim.
After three days, we arrived in Hong Kong by air, took the MTR, trekked through forked streets and winding, dark stairways. I learned that each block in Kowloon City emits its own unique scent—jasmine, the next street sesame, then herbal, anise, and all uniformly fecal, like wilting flowers—as if demarcating spaces for a sightless, but nasally-dexterous society. Later, we got to the ferry after threading in and out of pockets of bystanders momentarily caught by the soundscapes cast of white buskers financing their Asian expeditions. From the water, the skyline gleamed in the sheen of its permanent semi-darkness. Smaller boats drifted past us.
The last sixteen days seems to have been an exercise in measuring our capacity for the best foods of the region, testing our receptiveness to the wide, technicolor spectrum of beauty, of people, landscape, and sound. Grateful grateful grateful for everyone I've met along the way, and for Gamakich most of all. Thank. You.
Today we're heading to Okinawa from Nagasaki. I'm a quarter Okinawan, and the rest of my (known) lineage can be traced to Kumamoto, other places in Kyushu, and Yamaguchi. This flight to Okinawa will be the last leg of my nomadic Motherland tour: my first time out of Tokyo, to Kyushu, and to the land of sweet potatoes and centenarians.
These pictures were taken at some of my favorite spots in Miyajima, Fukuoka & Nagasaki.