I’ll Dial Your Number

You offer to run him over with your wheelchair. I come to you deceived and smelling
of fish oil. You pat my back with your hospital gown grin. It’s so soft I cackle. I
cough him out at the rate of decomposing newspapers. Our incense joints speak
mutually unintelligible languages. They are our grandmothers’ curse words. Two
pencils of smoke, two dialects of viral particles. You help me pull out each poisoned
seaweed, call it detox. You’ve never been surer of anything in your life.

My earth and ocean science textbook quotes a west coast city mayor saying

“CITIZENS SHOULD run to higher ground in case of tsunami—run and save
yourself first, leave the old and disabled behind.”

On one side of the mist is a clamp of cages. On the other side is. I’m not leaving you

Meeting question: “If you were a kind of medicine, which would you be?” Each
time I say pipagao because you gave me pipagao one time in class, that year when
my back shook from losing so much to the walls. More than a decade later I am still
being remade into the leaves, pit, and fires of loquat. When I rub my face against
its orange skin I smell the humidity of the classroom drenched in spring. Something
faint from being six years old—those gigantic bronze statues of pigeons in Nanjing,
designed in the 70s, alarmed and fascinated you. Our bodies already feel the change.
Remembering this archive of birds is the game we play together.

Our shoebox cluster community is a wok, sauce pan, and congee pot fighting for
space on the stove. The dishes crowd loudly, complaining about the broken elevator.
The plastic spoon writes a passive aggressive note about the wet towels dripping
down into her balcony. Napkins twinge with panic. You tell me about the automatic
gates that slice off a finger, just a finger, at a time. Waffles in the fridge, only sagging
a little. When we crackle and boil, it’ll be the pacific that heard us laugh first. I say,
under my breath, but loud enough for you to hear, fight for those who fight for you.

Your earrings are urgent. My screams don’t turn me into a bulletin board case
study, and still you grab the first cab over. I offer you cookies and tea twenty times.
Somewhere beneath this bunkbed dampness I still don’t believe I deserve this grace.

I’ll dial your number. I’ll feed your cat. I’ll feed your stuffed animals. I’ll give you
back the water, circle around the hurricane. Won’t say anything about the rain. We
both know.