Friday, October 27, 2017

27 October 2017

I want to write an honest sentence. Amar is 16 and lives in Mosul; he has just come out of the river, soaking wet. His parents killed by ISIS, his younger sister paralyzed. Their uncle, with whom they live, does not feed or care for them. Amar sings about his mother to the journalist who asks him questions; the sweetness of his grief floods my car at rush hour. We're numb to what's happening, a student says; all that's left of the Vegas massacre is a large banner on the side of the Mandalay. Mandalas are for disappearing, but not the trauma we've outsourced to others. Fifty thousand Americans died of overdoses last year alone. Alone denotes a single year, not a person. Their parents talk to us about addiction, about costs, about funding, because no matter where you start, you end with money. The young Hawaiian beside me told the story of “middle of nowhere” Oregon, where he'd been harassed by police. Asked what kind of Monster he drank, he laughed. They called in back-up. An hour and a half hassle for hitting a few inches of curb on the way into 7-11. “That wasn't a story, though you probably wanted it to be,” said the Mexican kid in workshop. “That was an experience you were writing.” His aunty told him he'd get dates because he's light-skinned. “No one wants to date a peasant,” she said, and he wondered how to respond, so he didn't. What they left out of reader-response theory was what happens when there is none, when what we're told makes no sense, though it hurts. If you give me words to describe your rape, your mobbing, your curling in a ball on the bathroom floor, what am I to do with your gift? The girls of Boko Haram hide their faces behind hands and flowers. Men strapped bombs beneath their robes. The first abuses were precursors, foreplay to the rain of flesh and fabric that was to be their only inheritance. I love you, we say, I love you. The thick mesh of our monosyllables holds some of it  back.

--27 October 2017

No comments: