Found in a dumpster: folding table, can of Pringles. Half full, half empty: it doesn’t matter. Perspective’s no good
to the stomach, which, unlike the mind, is indentured by habit, by imperative. Blame evolution. Blame the gods
from which we absorb our preference for dominion, mimicking what we misinterpret as power unaccompanied
by consequence. This is how we become new Americans: five-finger discount, Midas touch. Transfiguration
as anti-assimilation, my mother fashions dining set and dinner with the loot she lugs into our apartment while I,
months old, not even potty-trained, dream of cities shorn and shores away, where a daughter barters her mother’s
last gold bangle for guaranteed passage out of the Mekong Delta, where a daughter barters the last thing she owns:
her body, her crow-black hair parted down the middle, the length of nights lost in the South China Sea,
nights she relives whenever their faceless forms, like sudden lightning, surprise her in the flesh of ordinary things—
the coyotes, the pirates, the virgins vaulting into bottomless dark, nourishing sharks and not their captors. I suppose
that’s survival: to appropriate what annihilate us, to make use of what appears useless. I know this despite what it took
to know it. I know this despite the conceit of knowing. It sucks belonging to anywhere, to anything. Even in Heaven
we’re trespassers, told we don’t speak English well enough. Even in Heaven we apply for citizenship and wait.
Heaven’s a lot of waiting. So we master the grief of geography, severed from a life that persists as shadows of shadows.