Battle Royale (バトル・ロワイアル)
All the way to the station Sloane and the other brother angrily cursed the policeman. I tried to calm them down; we were handcuffed and there was no point in further struggle. But they kept right on protesting and cursing, and when we got to the station, the police began working them over. Their arms were still restrained. Since I said nothing, I got off lightly. The police provoked me, but I refused to respond. I just kept telling the other guys to shut up, but they would not, and so they got a real beating. The big guy who had charged me was right in the middle of it, giving as many blows as he could, really enjoying his work. After the brothers were subdued, he mopped his brow, straightened out his clothes, and told the others, ‘I have to go now because I promised to take my wife and the kids to church at nine.’ — Huey P. Newton, from Revolutionary Suicide
Daughter of Snow, your
Dust in the pitch black morning
Was my first birthmark
Daughter of Snow, your
Flourish, thunderous grey dress,
What does it portend
[T]he moment of waking is always a moment of loss. We are not displaced from dream so much as placed, returned to the condition of place; for at that moment the spaciousness of dream, its infinite filamentation within a mental space, is suddenly contracted, The containedness of place that both Levinas and Blanchot saw as an asset to sleep, a security within which one can let one’s self rest, can also be seen as a limitedness. We awake into a body that is indeed the definitive place, a continuous “here” that we can never transform into a “there.” It is the condition of our fated placement in the world—fated because we do not choose this place, which is not like any other because it is us. We are thrown into the body, into the world, into time. And this primordial fatality is repeated every morning. We are cast upon the shores of our bed linens from out of the infinite ocean of night, left like debris as the dream recedes from us. We then must take up the burden of the mystery: one’s condition as an embodied being in a world that is other than that being, that is in so many ways inert, sluggish, unresponsive to our thoughts and desires.
It is not surprising then, that we can often detect an undertone of melancholy in the moment of waking—and precisely melancholy rather than some other shade of regret. —
Peter Schwenger, At the Borders of Sleep: On Liminal Literature
I’ve been reading this book before sleep the past few nights and I’ve experienced the strangest dreams of my life.
Reverberations of my
Hemingway Knows: sesame. -
Hahlmuhnee asked me to pick some kennip for dinner, today. It is hot and the mehmee are crawling up the big pear tree in the backyard, the one that Hahlabuhjee planted when we moved here. I do not like the mehmee—they are loud and their eyes remind me of the blood that spilled from my thumb when Samchoon pricked me with a needle to leak the poison in my belly when I was sick last fall.
I am walking through the small kennip patch with my thumbs pressed into my palms. The leaves are flat and wide, like my Hahlmuhnee’s face when she is cross. The mud is soft and leaking into my jelly shoes, the ones I share with Hahlmuhnee, now that my feet are grown. It smells—like rain, because it rained in the morning, when I was still pretending to be asleep while breakfast was being fried. It smells like sesame, like the tiny toasted seeds Omma will sprinkle into the soy sauce. It smells of pear, a little bit rotting; the brown underside of Hahlmuhnee’s teeth and her breath when she has been sucking on soft gam. I click my tongue, because gam always makes my mouth itchy.
All of the sudden, I am not walking in the kennip patch anymore. I am not in the backyard anymore. The blue-grey bricks of my Skokie house disappear into a thick mist, and Hahlabuhjee’s big pear tree splits down the middle as though struck by lightning and the mehmee fall from its leaves like a cloud of burnt sesame, and out of its slick body, a tall white tower shoots up into the sky like a soy bean sprout. I realize, quickly, that my Hahlmuhnee’swords are useless here, so I will speak the Dominick’s language (the round and curly words Daddy uses at the grocery store) to find my way back home to Skokie, Illinois.
The dirt continues to seep into my jelly shoes as I wend my way through the forest of impossibly green trees that has replaced the stalks of kennip. I ask Sir Squirrel to point me in the direction of America, but he is too busy stuffing his small mouth with the acorns that have fallen from an oak tree, and I recall, now, that the oak tree standing guard at the front of my home is so huge that I could not fit my arms around it; how its aged skin felt rough and loving on my face, as I leaned in to smell out its name, to stare into the dry eyes of mehmee shells that collected over the hottest parts of August; how I learned that small things have small lives, but death can cover the length of the tallest tree I’ve ever seen.
I continue through the quiet, wondering why no one else seems to live in this pocket I have somehow fallen into, wondering whether Hahlmuhnee will be angry that I don’t walk through the screen door with a basket of fresh kennip and how I will explain to her that this isn’t my fault. I see a fat furry bumble bee land on one of the outstretched limbs of a tree, and I grow still as the air in August; in August, last year, when a wiry bee that had been hidden between the stacks of kennip I had picked buried its stinger in the soft space between my third and fourth finger, and I watched it wriggle like a loose tooth until it died in my red hand.
Perhaps if I could reach the door to the white pear tree tower, I could ask someone the way home. Perhaps if I could see through the wide green leaves, see through my Hahlmuhnee’sstern face, I could read the curly letters my Daddy pens so cleverly when twilight is all that is left to guide his dark hands, and he is asking me to bring him some left-over rice, so that he can glue the flap of his envelopes shut, even though I tell him again that he only needs to lick the flap to make the glue stick. Perhaps, if I could speak the Dominick’s words better, someone would understand what I mean when I say America.
A bubble pops, together with the dream I had that morning—I dreamt that Omma was home and stringing crabapples from the front yard together to make a necklace for me and my brother. I dreamt that Omma was home and singing a song under her breath as her cool hands touched my face, my bare shoulder, my fat calves. I dreamt that Omma was home and throwing a blanket of honeyed sesame seeds across the kitchen tiles. I dreamt that Omma was home and tracing a white line down the street in front of the Skokie house, the line she promised would always bring me home.
The screen door whines as I walk into the kitchen. My little brother is watching Sesame Street in the living room. Hahlmuhnee is sitting on the floor, cross-legged, grinding fresh garlic with a pumice stone. I cannot see Daddy, but I know he is in the family room, reading the newspaper, also sitting cross-legged, just as he was when I had left.
“Hahlmuhnee, here is the kennip.”