Essays and Creative Nonfiction
“After I hold the gun, I wonder what image, what sound, what report of misinformation, what switch flipped, what threshold did my father step over.”
"Sometimes I hate the way men occupy space: their wide stances, their proprietary looks, their voices booming across rooms and through my head. But then I think of Orion sprawled across the heavens every winter and fall. If I were on another planet, Orion would be gone. All the geometry that makes him, wrecked from another angle. And I am comforted to find him in a sky cold and vast with possibility."
After dinner G practices Kung Fu, takes a shower, let’s me brush her wet hair as she hangs her head off her bed while her father reads Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Mrs. Weasley tries to discourage Ron, Hermione and Harry from going off in search of the horcruxes instead of going to back to school. And this is what we do as parents: retell the story, try to keep our children from danger. And when no parent hovers above us? A kind of loneliness and freedom? A release and absence?—Not yet for my daughter who asks her father after he’s closed the book to sit with her in the dark of her bedroom a little longer.
This was before the internet, before AOL, before the possibilities of avatars or late-night chat room exchanges nourished by common interests or curiosity, unbounded by geography. To be an adolescent then was to feel the acute limits of one’s body. And if you were a girl and/or nonconforming, and if your desire felt confused and staticky as the signal from a distant college radio station that was your only source for alternate possibilities, how could you not want to stand on that balcony with Ann, flashing nothing but the razor of your voice, begging your beloved to give you their attention without distraction?
I am clear in my fear, in my plexiglass terror: the dream in which a Homeland security agent folds and stuffs a paperback book I ordered in 2006 from Amazon.com into my mouth.
I remain concerned that white empathy, even white love, seeks to elide difference. White love like whiteness brings with it a history of assimilation, colonization, dominance, and violence. I love you because you are so much like me, is not the same as I love you because you are so different from me, is not the same as I love you because you are.
A police officer flaunts his gun and in the amount of time your child is afforded to pull their hand from their pocket you can learn their market value.
I want to teach my daughter how to swim, how to live off the grid, how to grow her own food and make her own art. But what I need to teach her how is to die or how to live as if she is already dead.
“From Elsewhere: On Poetry Translation and Context.” Sonora Review, 70, 2016: 12-17.