꼬나보나보다 The Interview
글 : 백승우 / 그림 : 박희영
The morning of my first Seoul summer, I embraced my mother in the din of the airport, as she asked me not to cut myself. Her arms clamped around my overgrown torso and patted my back. She smiled, looking up, craning her neck in a way she hadn’t needed to do just few years ago, and I saw her eyes had curled like the awnings wet under summer shower. On her face there were folds that wrinkled out, up and over the cheeks, and were bookended by the tiny shallows of dimples. She touched my cheeks, slightly more taut and youthful surely, but perhaps less lively—interview jal bogo wa—more anxious—hyungnim hantae mal deryuteunee. We hugged one last time, a bit more tightly as if to break the crystalline sphere held in the space of our chests with the pressure of the embrace. When she parted, readying to send me off, she fished out a crisp orange bill that rustled against her dry fingers, and pressed it into my palm. For duty-free. She said.
When the plane lifts off tarmac, it unkisses the naval of birth with black rubber fast spinning heat out and away from goodbyes to farewells clung to dessicated palms twitching mad in fawning gasps, lascivious licks. PressYour Forehead Into Crash Position (feel free to recite childhood psalms should it prove to be effective in alleviating your mood in this stressful situation) dent it in against the grill of steamed rooms berthing convection current, the plumbed galley tucked away at the nose, scrunched in between ears ceaselessly whipped stiff like peaks of meringue. Lapping wind sweet talks the words of encouragements encouragements, gushing beyond the plastic windows, seeping under the reinforced steels, and sleeping in decorticated box, blacker than the dead of night, when sunlight blinds,
I wake with my legs ceased up. The subcutane memory frantically motions to pump speed into the ground, to run, but it balks to find itself dangling thousands of feet in the air, and instead it convulses minutely to the shifting movement of the seat. When the pain subsides, I squint and look out the lunchbox-sized plastic window and through the condensation there is an unreal expanse that airily unfolds beyond the clouds. Seating snug, the feeling of chuteless buoyancy is immediate, and with it legs touch the floor. When I feel a gentle poke on my
shoulder, I turn to find my neighbour, a burly bearded man in his thirties, looking down at me and pointing behind him. I look over his plaid shoulder and find a stewardess in immaculate blue asking, “Bibimbap or Sushi?” 14 hours later, I declared myself to this purported country of morning calm, bleary-eyed and hungover on the memory of empty nest hugged, still smelling of twigs and winter tufts, and tightly fisting a bottle of duty-free whiskey.
내가 아는 선배는 대학 나오고 첫면접에 가서웃다만 나왔는데 대기업 취업했다더라. 그 재수없는 새끼. 나도 재수없어지고 싶다.
Passing through the immigration, half a day’s worth of breathing unfurled in my chest. The pair of lungs had busied itself circulating the stale, filtered atmosphere of the airplane, but in the arrival lounge, they started pumping in new air, in fits and spurts, into the fine map of capillaries straited across my torso. Breathing was an exercise in containment and regulation till I hear the soft thud of the green stamp, after which the clenched sensation lifts and I sail through the gate, having formalized the purpose of my entry. Still, the air was hostile, and the water would prove difficult. Outside the terminal, I gulped my first airconless Incheon air. A dense block of black heat cut with sooty exhaust of the airport shuttles and cars, waiting pickups and idling expectant. The humidity assaulted, wrapping around my mouth and nose, making me vertiginous. The whole suite of welcome was unadulterated and potent, and like a salted slug I pushed my trolley on through the concrete columns with my head down. Heff, who had met me at the gate, saw me retch at the overwhelming heat and exhaust and laughed. He had been waiting for me in the sea of faces that brightened every time the door slid open to cough up another bout
of new arrivals. We exchanged greetings. He asked how my flight was, only to be lost in the babel of families reuniting and crying, throwing voices and arms around. When Heff gestured out, I followed, and barely audible over the clamouring crowd, his familiar voice echoed. Fatigue reeled in. From the passenger seat of Heffâ€™s borrowed sedan, I saw Seoul phase in and out of the warm glow of streetlights, static and far away from the car that lurched across. The city was a clutch of bulbous lights. Sepia of the peninsula was the same as the sepia of the continent. We sped up, with glasses down, scent of pine pushing out the terminal air. But by the time we arrived at Heffâ€™s residence, a small basement one-room in Sowolro, the lump of air had already lodged heavy in the back of my throat, where it proceeded to dissolve at a glacial pace. Since then I hock out the phlegmy reminders of that first night with some regularity.
Wake at the bottom of the well, looking up at the sky clear and staring back. In the wet suit, and your face half submerged, you tug at the cuffs and hope to cover more of your skin. The gaze follows up the mossy walls of the well till the eyelids are damp. The bottom of your nose tickles with moisture and heavy air.You breathe hard, and you hardly breathe. The sough of air circles the lips of the well up above. It must be fucking cold up there. At least there is no draft here. Just what amounts to a pocket of air suspected over the still water.You are comfortable enough wearing that pocket like an ownerless fishbowl. How long has it been? How long since you laid down? Shift the posture, so that spine pokes out the water. It gurgles and gasps, just outside of your vision, and all you hear are desperation, renumeration, and eventual sedation. In ataraxy, porous bones open up into toothy mouths, tiny and multitudinous, gluttonous to breathe in the frame and the dank still water in that giant, drawn out moan.
At the bottom of this well, you donâ€™t know how long, how long you have been been lying on your back. Staring up into the sky, trailing the ways stars shiver and planes fly.
Long after the elemental and childish curiosity towards the world dissipates, you would still remember the breathless exhilaration of the moment when you learned that spiders are not considered to be insects. In the stuffy biology classroom, or as an happenstance outcome of perusal through encyclopedic entries gleaned from libraries, or even heard in the fanatical lecture given freely by a friend obsessed with all crawling lives.You will surely remember the revelatory moment that made you rearrange what little you knew about the world. The world-shattering, dire consequences of a precocious mind asking questions that instantaneously fracture and peter out into other questions many more. Where do you lump these sprawly, web-spooling things that haunt the disphotic corners of nightmares? With which many legged pictures of the encyclopedia do you put together? Is it with disgust or fear that you approach it? Have you ever spelt its names properly? Could you possibly have? Without knowing to whom the fat-bellied anthropods belonged? Is it true that spiders crawl down your throat if you sleep with your mouth open? How do you even spell arakhneed? Your eyes perhaps darted rapidly back and forth between the black-and-white pictures of spiders and fire ants, for some kind of validation, a similarity that will betray this newfangled worldview, and you would have only found two towering presences, both armed with buggy
eyes, but now seeing divergent things, looking onward into a world that refracts.You perhaps even referred back to your own pot-bellied body in front of a mirror and tried to count the number of segments: abdomen, head, and legs; and perhaps you were aghast, shaken with false revelation that you yourself were a spider after all. Most importantly, you would remember the shiver that ran down the still malleable column of your spine, developing and always scheming for more vertical space. The subsequent encounters with such creatures that dwell in the peaty dirt of gardens and cracks of concrete walls, and the fear you felt or the way you were startled into dropping things would simply have been that initial shiver just over and over again repeated in varying strength of hue. Meeting my aunt for the first time, who cried and laughed, pawing me frenetic, calling out aigo over and over again, I was taken back to that time, when I first learned the spiderâ€™s true name. She had my motherâ€™s eyes, but smiled with an alien mouth. I met a flurry of aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, and many others whose familial associations seemed tenuous or even tangential, conditional on how much anticoagulant was used that day. But they all singularly prodded and questioned this new arachnid presence that shunted onto the scene. Much of it was congenial and most often I was interrogated over the chorus of aejom nwhat-deoh and aromatic throwback of home-cooked dishes. Every word I said, the description of streets, footnoted perspectives that I had of my milieus of the last twenty or so years, they found strange, weird, and desirable. I was asked how much it would cost to send their sons and daughters, my cousins and nephews. Asked about credentials, addresses, and contact information. How many empty rooms did I have and how many people can fit into the room, at least on paper. They never asked about what they would learn, who they would meet, how many friends they would leave behind. Eventually my cousins liberated me, and stole me into the night. Guiding me through the neon-ridden summer night, my cousins shifted with ease from conviviality to cantankerous. They would schmooze the server for a spot closer to the clutch of girls, and in the same cajoling breath would sneer and openly joke at him for not thinking of doing so in the first place. Prescience was mandatory, it seemed, in the hospitality industry.
They were loud, hushed, and impossibly big stomached. Timid at first, skirting around the fact that I was not from the same berth of experience, they tested the waters of how many cultural references had been shared. A few names were dropped. I picked up a couple. Perhaps enough of them, and they visibly relaxed, offering me more alcohol and meat. We kept moving from bar to restaurant to club. They asked questions, but they also made statements. They tried to teach me. They hungered to know more from me, about who I was, but the question, never directly posed albeit incessant in every inflection of the night, seemed to be conflated with the questions about â€˜whereâ€™. Canada became me, and I wore that impossibly large country over my shoulder, hunched over the burnt grille stinking of meat. And that blurring would only become more swift, more effortless as the night emptied out more bottles of soju.
“스트리킹이 뭐냐?” “아 그 발가벗고 캠퍼스를 돌아다니는 건데--” “시발, 뭐 바바리 맨은 로망이냐 그럼.” 형은 키득거린다. 웃긴가 보다. “악의를 같고 한다기보다는 그냥 퍼포먼스의 위주로 하는 거라고 생각을 하면--.” “외국 애들은 뭐 별걸 같고 퍼포먼스라고 한다.” 큰형도 키득거린다. 진짜로 웃긴가 보다. “공연 문화가 널리 조성되지 않아서겠지.” 그건 웃기다. 술이 쉽게 들어간다.
For a period of two weeks in my freshman year, there was this palpable fear of revealed wangs on the university campus. Girls huddled over library tables and whispered over specific routes and hours that were more prone to this kind of revelation, the end of school year prophecy. Exam stress was touted as the main reason for the festival of cornucockia penetrating every corner of the campus green.
Administration was baffled. It tried to protect, but wasn’t sure who to protect from whom. When the news got around that the dean was bringing police presence onto the campus to curtail this campus ding-dong show-and-tell, students were uproarious. They said it was tradition. They said it was the atmosphere.Yet, no one noted that the last incidence of cavalier self-love of nude form was, reportedly, in the 70s, on the dick-end of a guy whose summer of love just never ended.* Since then the purported tradition seemed to have faded into the yellowing edges of newspaper clippings, stashed in between course reserves and microfiche. Of course, lingua franca of any society—frat or otherwise—is gossip, and soon we started hearing about the stories of Jack the Streaker, the fabled sophomore (I mean, who else would be brave and stupid enough—graduates?) whose member was humongous enough to swiftly change the fengshui of any room he strutted in. I heard that the collective GPA of that year’s eastern campus dropped by remarkable 1.3. I heard the number of students claiming that year’s bursaries and scholarships went up by 13 percent in the northern campus. I heard the dean was in the same bed as the Streaker, a passionate affair that ended his 13 years long marriage. Many things became veritable facts unchallenged and were gone from the dinner conversations the very next day, replaced with another riot of phallus-inspired jokes and facts. Some people thought the problem was well known. Others thought that the whole thing didn’t even exist. We were invariably steeped in the verbiage. Heff had squared himself in the third party, the ones that buried themselves in between lecture halls and libraries, exams and assignments, block upon block of shelfscape built on paper and vellum, faded ink and typos, and conspired to catch the streaker like a band of hunters after fabled creatures. They took on the epic task of doling out this vigilante justice solemnly and with utmost focus. Heff would bring them morsels of intelligence, which were always true but only in parts, such as being few hours ahead of schedule or late, and they tried to tighten the noose around the campus streaker. If they were asked the more fundamental question of ‘why are you doing this’, then they would have been dumbstruck, look at you as if you were asking the most outrageous question of utmost unnecessity or imbecility. As if you were dumb for asking such a question, and that they were abased into equal moronic stature for having been asked. But then they would have only been able to articulate their motives and missions in mystic-talk, soporific and unctuous, nothing but autotelic.
*For example, we never saw the school mascot strut with its blue ass hanging out of its over-sized football trousers.
The formulation of the plan, while a straightforward process, was weighed down with philosophizing of the hunt, naming of various parts that pinioned the actual catching, ensnaring, and delivering. They werenâ€™t pusillanimous. It was hard to see that fear immobilized them, but they certainly saw in this campus-wide buzz something that would deliver them away from the immediate needs of the exams and deadlines. It was an escape, and they readily took to it. Perhaps all the hours they spent lambasting each other, discussing and arguing over the technicalities and various artefacts of their studies, the -isms now being transplanted into a context where it had room to grow, all of that were spittles of their distractions, dropping indiscriminately, like that of a rabid sow.
Wake again, at the selfsame bottom. This time right-side up so that you stare into the well with the night on your back and spine breathing and your pregnant egg-white belly suspended in the purplish depth. Look past the murky water, distilled by nothing but the funnel of time and stay still. Do not move. Mud settles and coats your nose, chest beats, faint below the folds of your sandblasted skin so coarse. It drums steady, to a beat set by the birth of a child on the other end of this thread that now ties your fingers, one on each hand, and trails back up the slimy brick wall of the well where the spiders traverse across the silvery webs spun out by nature and into the white contrails of intercontinental flights. Wind blows from below the navel and caresses all the way to the cheeks. The arctic air tickles the earlobes into that brief eternal moment to dream up windowed rooms, afternoon glow, and a summer mayfly. Breathe the water till it fills every capillary of your two-piece lungs, buttoned up default organs, the wrinkled hand-me down starter-kits.
레고처럼 조립하려 한다. 매번 매뉴얼은 빼고 포장해준다. 알아서 조립하라는 말인가 보다.
Faint earlobe depression the size of shallot’s eye.
Verbum pro verbo. Hangul; parity
Tor-abutted nose. Rucked up cheeks.
Uncum for tuhble. Lingual parody
Phosphorescent paisley python wrangle-laid along starch runnel. Mouth that parleys. 3. Address
4. Phone Number
Jus soli in New World. Additional 25 dollars for delivery from the Old..
I can’t wait to hear your voice bisect the ocean floor, crawl through benthic cable, snaking leagues below dhows and trawlers. Will you wait to hear my voice on its way from consomme of heat-birthed planktons, a foot stuck in cerise magma, steps off of seamount, turning at the slate underbelly of abyssal. I can’t wait to hear your voice. Will you wait to hear mine.
In lieu of firstname.lastname@example.org
Long before black mirrors, humans used circadian rhythm to count the coming of age. Sticks and stone abacus thumbing Down the night long and delirious. Now you just use it to count the years for us.
7. Expected Salary
I daydream whether I would be worth millions if I am captured overseas.
Sunbeam veneer on rosewood escritoire where names carved in by rusted xacto claimed space. Conquest annulled only by marbles, well-placed apercu, coins, flipped erasers, bundle of papers. Mister Mister I am sorry Sister
9.Work Experiences People will let you ask all kinds of questions for 10 dollars an hour, in the name of science.
Flighty lips and stolen yo-yos, cut strings, red marked papers, learning to write billet-doux. Heavy petting in stained booths. Bellowing orgels. Children singing Evensongs. Rumble of alleluia alleluia alleluia.
That summer of record heat, when the measure of historical value was notched into the fabric of weather complaints mulled over all season, Heff came up to me in the dinner hall and slid across the table a black plastic DVD case. The nondescript case was worn, its plastic covering torn at places, but the way Heff thumbed the case, with undue care, it was like love. He licked his lips and rubbed his chin, impatient. He invited me to his room later that night, to watch the movie. There was something febrile in his eyes. Walking into his dorm room, faces of Hollywood were plastered on the walls, posters of Tarantino and Hitchcock smugly looking down. Hitchcock’s gaze followed imperious from one corner to the next, where I laid back in the bed so that I could lean out of the effective range of the illusion. But from that angle, Tarantino stared down in lieu of the prolific director. “People like Hitchcock filmed more than 50 movies in his life, and half of them are shit.” Heff said when I pointed to the poster the first time I was in his room. Just having met him during the blazing heat of orientation, I thought him a bit cocky. “This phenomenon of every single movie you make needing to be good is a modern one.” He said, leaning back into his chair. “And goddamn sickening.” I had then asked why that is, not really caring for the answer. “People are unforgiving. They don’t have time for your failures.” He had said. I wondered if he still thought that, two years down the road. Because I knew he had changed a lot, since then. “What’s the movie about.” I asked Heff as he booted up the computer. He turned and answered with a stupid grin on his face, “Let me show you your home.” The feverish intensity of his zeal was infectious. At the dinner hall, his porous cheeks rucked this way and that as he went on his undirected tirade, at this invisible persona that nonopposed him, ready to enlighten his niche of cinema knowledge, and it had moved me enough to get me to his dorm room, partly so that he would shut up about it. But lying back in his bed, waiting for his computer to cycle through the digital ablution of turning itself on, I felt calmer listening to the purl of cooling air outside, the warble of vacuum suddenly appearing and unloading the heat it had gathered during the day into the venous shadows under the
grapevines and branches cloying to the brick walls. The darkness chirped, and somewhere under the sill, a couple droned on till they were chased away by the timed sprinklers that turned on to water the grass. He had found the DVD at the Pacific Mall on his northern outing with a Hongkonger friend, he said. Movie starts. Light is turned off. Garish clothes, unending track shot. Years notched into the skin, attempts at life, botched. The terrible, terrible Smiles. Somewhere in Stockholm, the bridge, estranged teeth jutting through prognathous ants. The terrible, terrible Smiles. Light is turned on. I was bilious, and whatever hours of watching it had been shriveled up into concatenation of melodies and motifs, stapled together at edges. When he turned, after the full credit had rolled up, his voice was lit with pared down excitement, baring its columns of plaited phosphate. â€œThis is your culture, you lucky dog. That was sick. Just fucking sick.â€?
“훤칠하네, 올해 지원자들은. 외국물이 방송물만큼 좋은가 봐.”
He measures me by the length of my philtrum. The upper lip itches. “그럼 지원한 이유 얘기해주세요.”
I glance sideways, and one of the three clamps up, fists immobile on his knees, smartly dressed in charcoal otherwise. He keeps his head down, sweating profusely. The ones that have their heads about them start to list a litany of ‘whys’. Great infrastructure. Bleeding edge of innovation. Realization of a dream—a life long one. The panel of three men listens, jotting things down, and rifles through the stack of stapled papers in front of them, even though they must have fingered them dozens of times already. It must be pointless now, just a kind of performance, a silent agreement that we will answer your questions, and you will show us the modicum of respect and at least pretend to care, be in the moment, in this room with us. The contents of the applications, the details of what makes who we are, where we are from, and how we got here must be already memorized, rendering the papers inert. The story, I hope, is incomplete yet, and that that is why they summoned us. They want the why, and they want us to tell them. Tell them a good story. The central cooling aerates the white space. It’s so fucking cold in here. The worries about damp underarms and sweat collars, or smudging the black dirt trapped underneath the choking tightness of the tie are all quickly replaced with raised skins and shivering body. I hope that they don’t think me nervous. But I am cold, just cold. I tug at my cuffs, clearing throat, ready to roll up the y-shirt, thrust my forearms that I scrubbed hard till it reddened with welts. Perhaps they will ask, ‘are you cold. Can we see the arms. See if you have goosebumps?’ and I will obey. I will perhaps also show them where I pinched the creases of the shirt, the pants, so that I could iron out the overseas wrinkle.
Before I realize, my tongue pushes out a sigh, wiping the teeth clean, as if to lick away the bad taste of morning. Coffee is on my breath, and soon I also taste iron. I bite my tongue. I don’t know which comes first. “Me too.” I answer. They watch me with benthic stare, and interview is over. They thank me for applying. I thank them for their consideration. We keep on thanking each other. But the interview is over.
“진정한 로망이란 말이야, 와이셔츠만 입고 퇴근을 마중하는 여자 사람이야.” “마누라라고는 않는다 너.” “ㅋ 나 좀 개방적인 듯.” 큰형이 미쳤다며 부어 넣는 술을 작은형은 못 이긴다는 듯이 받아 마신다. “상상을 해봐,”
and I imagine
“그냥 몸매 쫘—.” “빠진 네 과장이 그걸 입고 있다고 상상을 해봐.” 토할 것 같다. 너무 마셨나 보다. The world turns. 불판의 lines swerve. “왜 그런 얘기를 해서.” “네 여자보다 과장을 더 자주 보잖아?”
He’s got a point. 다들 쳐다본다. 형들이 웃는다. “이 새끼 술들어가니까 영어가 나오는데.” “더 멕여, 불어도 하나 보자.”
And I laugh with them.
And as we turned around the bend, the air is cut sharply by the cool breeze and in front of us, we found the riverside opening up. Chitinous chatter chirped out from the canopy of plants, in between the barks and dry thistle, the shadowy greens. Summer buzzed busily under the streetlights high above us. Stars were faint here, but the lights burned like suns. When I felt sudden chill down my neck, I whipped around, jumping, to see Heff standing with two cans of beer in his hands. He redid his backpack, and lobbed a can underhanded to me. I barely caught it, shaking it up, and I watched dumbfounded as he cracked his. “I prefer not to get deported for something stupid like public drinking.” I gestured to throw it back to him, but he simply smiled. “It’s not illegal in Korea, doofus.” I looked down at the tin can of Hite,
crumpling ever so slightly under the pressure of my fingers. “You wouldn’t have dared in Canada” I mumbled under my breath. “This isn’t Canada. When in Rome.” When I cracked my can, I fought against the foamy eructation, the tiny aftershock of Heff’s throw, and even when my fingers were sticky, the beer was cold as it went down. Heff crunched his can and threw it at the waste basket. “God bless this country.” We spent hours on the concrete banks of the quiet river, seated in between throngs of denizens who had buckled under the sticky heat fueled insomnia and sauntered out to the cool riverside. In their Adidas flip flops, they drank boisterously with their boxes of chicken splayed open.
The red-eyed wakefulness was pervasive, and in the pockets of yellow glow, the riverside was sonorous. Across the river, I saw the north side of Seoul and the way the capital city was sewn in half by the insistent river, cleaving it together and separate, stitching and cutting open with each lapping wave. The river was huge enough to create a stunted horizon, but it was small enough so that you could venture to swim across without the same courage one would muster up to cross the English channel. Heff started telling me about his work as an ESL teacher, the lousy students and worse parents, the shitty boss and shittier coworkers, but much of it went over my head, now tipsily filled on hop and fermentation of the night, I listened half-heartedly and instead looked onto the couples gathered around makeshift vendors who sold snacks and can beer. After a while, few more cans in, all of it felt familiarly strange. This very same riverside, this very night, I had been here before, in my mother’s stories which were carefully and patiently pulled out from her heartstore as if unspooling a tangled thread from its skein, so that it doesn’t get ruined, so that she doesn’t mix up the causes and effects, the starts and ends, the progress of emotions from fiery to iced, and so that she tells her son, me, honestly and without conflation of what, where, and why. She had always wanted to deliver the most candid picture of her past. Her life, her city. She had wanted to do that partly because she was now in the heart of another city quiet strange, surrounded by tongues that confused her, and customs and bureaucratic procedures enraged her with their fine prints of expectations, so dense and impenetrable. So she painted the city for her son, and it was exquisitely gray. Seoul of her stories didn’t seem to share this expanse of green that I saw in front of me now. I drank more. I listened more. Their palavers were still difficult to parse. The sibilants and the consonants intermingled in the thick soup of summer air, nothing like mother’s crooning faintly remembered.
딩-동 메세지가 도착하였습니다.
When I had arrived at Heffâ€™s place that night, the first thing I had done was to enter into that gigue of contemporary life, of asking the wifi name, password, and then confirming the code again when I failed to observe the lowercase-uppercase divide. Coming back to his place after another night out with my cousins, my phone remembered the coded dance of connectivity, and immediately started downloading the app I had queued on my way back. When that yellow square popped up, having finished downloading, it automatically slotted in the sequence of numbers my mother inputed to my phone at the airport. It dialed.
Moments like these, he knows, are when the patina of fatherhood is at its most flushed. Coming undone in the gentlest swipe, thumbing of time and energy, but also rising like tidal waves, virtuoso in its potentiality. His sonâ€™s voice is low and inflected with flanges of hurt
and pain, sense of betrayal at the saccharine offer that beckoned him overseas to interview, to enter a room and display all that he is in front of others, like some grotesque and macabre public vivisection. Only to simply flatly loudly quietly cruelly reject him. Revoke the puissant offer blackly. But he knows that this will go away, tamped by time and other offers of same brutalization. And with time this boy will grow up to be a man who knows how to steel himself, be more precise and surgical in opening up the self. He will learn how to wound himself in a way that is permissible, imaginable, and protracted. Soon he will age enough so that scalpel is unnecessary. Nothing edged will be availed to him and he will simply smile and drop his elongated fingers, sharpened by the maelstrom of life, the tissues of experiences turning wild, and presences that hail over him day in and day out. He will reach deep into the chest, bare only the shade of red that he has to perforce show. He will learn to measure simultaneously as he cuts. He will know the sensation of giving skin, supple under the barrage of sheer will, the desire to change, to perform, and to be for those who would demand the world of him and offer a pittance in return. He will give willingly, just as a man falls in love; just as gawkily he will stumble forward. All of this will come second hand to him. But now, he is still young, and the voice that admonishes the circumstances, the place, the time, all of it, in its intertwining dance, is hard-edged, raw. The father wants to tell his son that he understands, that he wishes him well, or better yet, give him advice. But when his son speaks, asks questions, he is a man. All he can muster, all he can bring himself to be able to say is the geist of his homeland in snippets of fading scripts, of musty aphorisms and morsels of knowledge fished out of long disused textbooks riddled with misprints, and filled with assertions and long-held beliefs now disproved. So, the son vents, and his father listens.
And when you turn, soaking your bare neck and spine jutting in the brackish water, you feel the tingle of the world you left behind. The one that you disembarked upon boarding that white steel tubed flight. The vast darkness beyond the murk reaches out and traces its thousand fingers and tendrils along your skin. Wind wails above, but the touches on your back are warm as they circle the tundric ridges of your spine.