Out here in the moonlight
Half light, night light
When the pity and despair in your eyes
Says a thousand more words
Than could ever be uttered from your lips
Fluid and liquid, but steady
While inside you’re violet
Transcendent and flickering
With droplets of every rainbow colour
In the furthest,
Beneath your silver shell,
There is no jeering laughter
If you’re not what they expect you
But this you cannot show them
For fear that they will smother it
Or snuff it out
With their foolish consistency
“Guys, get up! Breakfast is being served in a half hour. You’ve already missed the morning service!”
I groaned. My whopping three hours of sleep had not served me well. I rolled over and saw Andrew looking up at me. Andrew had dark hair, a yellowish tone of skin and eyes with a slight slant to them—Asian. In fact, everyone in the room was Asian, excluding myself.
It seemed a strange idea initially, but when my friend Alvin invited me to come on a previous retreat of the Cincinnati Chinese Church six months before I figured it was better than gazing at a glowing monitor all weekend. I had been having trouble making friends at my family’s church; they just weren’t the kind of people I fit in with. The youth at my parent’s church seemed to me the perfect stereotype of teenagers—no ambition, only caring about the moment, and doing everything for the sole purpose of fitting in. I dreaded going to church each Sunday; I didn’t want to become one of these people. The Cincinnati Chinese Church offered a fresh start.
I was amazed at how quickly I assimilated into the social world of the Chinese Church. It was the first time I had ever felt “popular,” so naturally I continued to return. It was a wonderful atmosphere—a place where I could worship the God I loved and enjoy the company of the people who seemed like me—not externally, but internally. As I continued to return to the Chinese church, a lot of my “friends” made fun of me. They called me an “inverse Twinkie,” a clever racial slur referring to Caucasian people who are under the impression that they’re Asian. I simply smiled and played along. I found that I cared less and less what they thought—I had discovered a place I loved, a place I belonged, and I was happy. The reason I fit in so well with the youth group was a bit oblique at first, but eventually it became obvious to me. They’re scholarly people, intelligent; they love God and have a knack for computers—which also happens to be a perfect description of myself. I climbed out of bed and got dressed. I was sore from the previous night’s festivities—nothing quite like Frisbee Football, or Ultimate Frisbee as my Oriental friends had dubbed the game. I smiled to myself as I walked down the dimly-lit hallways of the campus. “I am at home,” I thought.
He catches the “no” as it tumbles from my mouth
Shoves it back into my throat
He is made of granite, of marble: Stonehenge
Stone-boy makes the floor swallow me
I descend from Irish Chieftains
It doesn’t matter
My head pounds on the bathroom door
And he hurts me
And hurts me
And hurts me
I am a child of rape, now I am its slave
I leave my life in the shower drain
I throw up and he laughs
Two hours of solitude
I cry as I look for my pants
He took my cigarettes, too
I am not my own
He becomes fierce
under the constant glare
of his enemy.
He has been given
a bad name
and no advantages.
Highlighted is his bloodstream.
Everywhere he goes, it rapidly follows.
His misconstrued thoughts
make much sense.
His words make no sense at all.
He becomes a dried flower,
pressed between my yearbook pages.
These are the shots of life
that we see translated to vision:
those dramatic slow motion turn-abouts
or artsy fade-outs with unreal light.
Though we cannot feel
voyeurism with public on our body,
we can identify the moments
with a flat sigh,
or a cry,
or a gasp
as one of six billion.
And we fall into a
1st-person digital narrative
with nothing to save us
unless we should be swallowed
in the mouth of madness
and see ourselves as the way we would
by our own absent minds.
I never drank Mountain Dew
until you swore it was the beverage of the gods
and I’d die if I went another minute
without chugging an icy cold glass.
I never watched professional soccer
until you forced me to endure game after game
as you gave me back rubs on your cold basement floor.
I never listened to underground punk or ska
until we drove with the top down
and blasted The Indecisives through your dad’s fifteen-hundred-dollar sound system.
So I’m sitting here sipping my daily dose of sweetened caffeine
with the afternoon soccer game on mute
so I can hear my new Mustard Plug CD flowing from the speakers,
thinking about how I like you in a way
that has nothing to do with soda.