What has been your ultimate journey?
How to love my mutant/monster self. To follow iterations of mutations, not to tamp down weird edges, cut off voices in the landscape of my throat.
If this is island dream,
to make resting points, surfaces, layers for breathing.
To lift up jagged, chaotic, the thing(s) unlike others, the thing that loves thingness. What gave others pause as I crafted myself into what will be – what gives my voice flavor and seasoning, the me queer that sees queer in you (for example, fluid, between, yes).
Where do you start? Where do you end?
Breathing I’ve struggled with since I was child – with asthma, with lungs sometimes absent or constrained, I have felt close to the tunnel.
I start and end with breath
will you follow
tunnel a state of writing I enter when much falls away. I practice, similar to sitting with breath. A pen and notebook, trying to focus on what is essential. My preference to buy a 99c notebook in a dollar store, but I use whatever present, in the surface. The house less important than what tracks, what keys pressed, which mouths against walls here. What needs to be pushed out into world.
Do you worry about the politics of classification? How do you classify yourself?
The elementary-school version of me always wanted to fit in, looked for a spot on the wall to match the other walled-up children.
Sorting to belong
dividing means choosing
To name yourself to work your own power. In second grade, I re-named myself, asking my mother for a new name for my birthday present. Instead of Ching-In (‘Happiness’ having become ‘Chopsticks’ or ‘Chicken Wings’ on the yellow bus, against a locker), Elizabeth. A WASP queen but I wasn’t. In college, I discovered another with my assumptive name when I received her bank statements in the mail. How you could tell the difference between the two of us – Ching-In stuck in the middle between that WASPy name and my family name, was the sorting factor. My whole family followed suit into the divided world. My brother Ching-Wu (named after the Fish King) became Ricky. My mother Te Ming shorted herself to Te. My father Cheng-Hsing became Jensen, or Jim. Now, I still participate in self-sorting, a kind of community identification with the potential to be a source of power, grouping yourselves with those who might recognize you as family.
When do you leave the wall intact, when do you knock it down?
If a wall built for defense, if a wall meant to protect, if a wall pierced by doors, if a wall cries wolf, if a wall prevent hurricane, if a wall a face of a body, if a wall only superficial exterior, if a wall holds the head to sky, if a wall not a reflection, if a wall not a solid, if a wall a mere suggestion, if a wall a private language of collapse, if a wall a ruined membrane,
If to all appearances becomes the page
then let the wall