Chance

By Sherry Luo

  Still Life, Naomi Okubo

Still Life, Naomi Okubo

The air is hot, thicker than fog,

and sour. Milk gone bad. A river with indigestion. I can drink

it. I’d rather not.

Sunlight

is transformed into needles, threading my pores, stitching my fly hairs together.

Landfills, with every scavenger imaginable. Rats. Vultures. Children. Baby farms. Fields of vertical burial plots. An old woman with a lined map face, selling shriveled vegetables on freshly printed newspapers

she can’t read.

Aubergines and cauliflowers for sale. Tasty aubergines and cauliflowers. Please buy.

All within sight of an auto rickshaw, cemented

in mire traffic. My lower half is wracked from

9-day constipation, but

I’m a good girl. I don’t scream until after the ride.

At “home,” traditions lord. Feet are bare. Heads are bowed. Legs

covered.

Questions endured.

These things, they are beneath me. I,

I am not of here. This land and its rules have no hold over me.

Why should they.

Aubergines for sale. Cauliflowers for sale. Aubergines and cauliflowers.

One day, there is no one. By no one I mean only the servants, the servants and their ash-caked nails. No one to tell me no.

This is my chance.

I take out my shorts, the cute ones I bought just for this summer. The ripped cuffs gently trace where my thigh and hip meet, form a downy V, an arrow pointing

inside.

My bare leg is a beautiful thing. Caramel smooth, mousse soft. Thirsty for flowing,

caressing air.

Aubergines and cauliflowers for sale.

Every male’s eyes are irresistibly drawn toward my legs, a hundred compass needles swinging north. Stick figure school boys in soiled white and blue uniforms, distracted from the grubby tennis ball that has

no bounce

left. Working men, jammed in trams. Sweaty collars and pits and camel hide bags stuffed with claims files, bellies bloated with cheap

bananas. Beggars, with tombstone teeth and nothing else. Every age, every mouth — open, salivating.

Aubergines and cauliflowers for

A throng of girls, dressed in blazing weaves, petals in their braids, hands over their mouths, eyes scrunched in laughter. They’re laughing at —

Look at her.

Who does she think she is?

I feel naked. Stupid. A plucked peacock.

I try to walk home without tremble. No tremble like cafeteria Jell-O
bones.

The rest of my time, I hide in a palace of mosquito netting, but the real mosquitoes aren’t outside.

Aubergines and cauliflowers for sale...aubergines and cauliflowers... please buy.


Sherry Luo is an undergraduate at the University of Georgia pursuing a BS in Genetics and a BA in English. The recipient of the 2016 Georgia Poet Laureate’s Prize, she is the author of Imperative of the Night (The Lune, 2017).

Naomi Okubo was born in Tokyo in 1985 and graduated in Fine Arts from Musashino Art University. Her work has been widely exhibited in solo and collective exhibitions in Japan, Hong Kong and New York, among other places. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn. She is represented by Tokyo gallery MoMo.