When Gage shook open the rolled beach towel, it didn’t rustle, it pounded. Pound, pound, pound like the numbers climbing up the scale beneath my toes, the numbers dripping down my thighs, the numbers I can’t lift with my disproportionate arms. Pound, he shook it down like my longquan-mind grandfather missing the sword with his ball-peen hammer and pound, his finger is an oozing mush like the congee he cooked for the navy, like the first time he shot through a mind, like his liver disintegrated from El Dorado. Pound: my brother, a sous chef, thinking he can invent sushi. Pound: my mother, a Heian goddess, falling off the pedestal into the flimsy arms of a racket-chaser. Untrekked, quaking sand devoured the towel until we could huddle chest to chest to fly on clouds of Hawaiin flowers. Gage pushed Highball into my hands. He was a fake Tokyoite, piloting the peak of the world, and I loved him for it. He wouldn’t sleep with me but he would sleep with monsoons from radios, lullabies on trains, pens running on fumes, linseed oil in metal wine tumblers beneath our window. He played piano for my brother, painted white roses for my mother, picked up a jade money tree in SoHo for my grandmother.
Gage always gurgles soda before swallowing. Each gurgle is living: a breath of high fructose corn syrup to pull us through the day, a shot of bitter to bring us back from head-over-heels. Gurgle he continued like my brain boils when I look at art, like my hands shook clumsy in English classes, like my culture’s byproducts are supposed to bubble in my internship lab. Gurgle: my life should be rollercoaster of highs and lows that’s now sped-up like a Geiger counter. Gurgle: a repulsive sound when you can’t tell which toilet it came from, when the garbage disposal eats more than you, when you pick infected admiration until it festers.