Bio of the author can be found here.
An Expression of feminism
On the cover, the movie is known for its stark social commentary
and award-winning makeup. Before it starts, I sprinkle my popcorn
with salt and butter, and turn off the lights with sullied fingers;
veiling the streetlamp-lit night, with a sullied mouth the female
protagonist blurts out:
I am not a coat hanger.
A menacing figure facing the camera, full-bodied, from head to
knees. She goes against the sunlight, but even in the dark, you
can see her frown and the mass of lines of loose skin beautifully
etched out as if her face was fashioned out to imitate an erudite’s
wisdom, her cerulean stare stark like the taste of salt.
You will love this movie, they told me during an Easter dinner,
each one at different instances: first by the one who always
arrives impeccably early to a fault, while I put the lamb into
the oven, with plastic gloves, an apron, and a tight bun revealing
veiny temples only my closest can see. Secondly by the friend
keen to learn the secrets of creating the perfect sauce, but fails
to remember the mixture of flour and fat, that the gravy should be
stirred under high heat. The last one came when I was slicing the
meat into thinner strips, her suggestion met with approving nods
from the other two–sharp as knives–seemingly supportive of my
choice, as if the movie could carve a new mind-frame, as my body
transitions from man to woman.
To them, I used to be gay, with my gutsy stare and my guttural voice.
I watch like creating a new reality; like a man, she breastfeeds her
child, as a form of liberation. All humans are born female, and I
imagine a man lactating, exposing his breasts like all men do in public;
he breastfeeds his child while sitting on a mall bench next to a lingerie
store with a scantily-clad model slender as a straw, with one sexy
stare going on forever. And I see the guard coming as a silhouette—
a man or a woman?
Not bossy, but assertive, with a focus that sends shivers down the
spine, a friend told me, or is he a colleague, or a fellow reviewer–I
forget. An expression of feminism that defies gender—gender-
defying—gravity-defying… a loose fruit that could either fall down
or stay tight—to be or not to be–to be born or not yet–yet to be.
To be a man or a woman–gender-defying.
An expression of feminism. I snap back into reality at the sound of
a scream—contextless, since I’ve lost track of the movie. A sexy frown
of award-winning makeup. Strength defined through appearance.
Compared to her, my face is smooth, no crevices and a seeming ounce
of remaining baby fat. I may be contextless–neither a man nor a woman.
I drink the pronoun to wash away the taste of salt and butter and wash
my hands, bony and male, to keep my expression of strength.
On the metaphysics of destiny
Colouring the sky into a sea of red
is a metaphysical exercise that I
indulge myself into, when the die
rolls into a one, instead of a six I
can cut in half like a pear to reveal
a perfect core inside, pure as a
sunlit room veiled under a green
curtain so tacky it makes my grand-
mother’s dress look like a Picasso painting–
a piece of art like time. Across art,
I can see the reflection of the windows
and the sky through the portrait’s glass
cover. Metaphysics doesn’t indulge itself
in time, for it considers time the same way
it considers the space of an upturned
sky, where an abundance of bald
dandelions plucked by the northern
wind rains pollens to the bosomy earth.
You see the thread of fate as if it enlaces
you like the silk of a meaning, a word
with one linguistic notion lingering forever
in everyone’s tongue. To teach is to
taught but to preach is not to praught.
When I preached the importance of
destiny, I preached it in an empty church–
a metaphysical purgatory unbound by
time and space–or is it time and space
itself? I marry my footsteps before the
wind and water take them–the memories of
my past life–or a different reality. When
I have a child I will give him , or her, my
hand-me-downs as brand new artifacts–
brand-new to me, so that my thread
won’t tie with his. He
will marry his own footsteps,
not the earth on which he grew, nor
the upturned sky that commenced
the metaphysical exercise of painting.
Old to a fault, when time has failed to
pursue my favourite past-times, I will
see the moon as a dot of one in the die,
like a pearl, its surface the same as the white
core reflecting stars vanishing into time and space.
Tristan and his mum’s voyage to the great elsewhere
Tristan and his mum’s voyage to the great elsewhere Mum and I left Dad’s house on fire
when I was nine, in a night barefoot procession of cicada hymns.
Tristan’s internal crisis
Your love will never be enough, unsatisfying like a poor
wife’s wedding ring. Even mosquitoes prefer to suck on
corpses at night to die like shanty kids. When you try to
undo your dead father’s sins, you will end up repeating
them. The alcohol never dries out, trickling with blood
and sweat into your skin.
Wings clink like uprooted burning homes, and you dream
to fly in different languages. Your eyeballs burn from trying
and failing, and the water inside the kettle boils past its
burning point; their perfumes tickle your ears. Words
uncoil like skin sheds, spilling out of your mouth:
C’est quoi ta raison d’être?
A bed of molluscs
Tonight, a high tide—even the thin strip of shingles
where bits of grass grew was moved by the waves.
The sea even looked more majestic than usual—
different as if seeing the ragged landscape of blue as
a new being, coated from mud and the slick breath of
the Atlantic, which knocked boats against each other
and slipped its fingers into Tristan’s shirt—welcoming its
cold touch keeping him awake, when shucking scabs did
nothing but imitate an expression of pain weaker than
the burn of drinking salt. As he walked, the waves
slithered across his bare feet and retraced his footsteps—
the moon painting a silhouette of his experience:
the coat of salt on his skin after a spray, the crashing
of water against the rocks like a chant, a form of prayer
in the ritual of transformation:
here Tristan lies on mossy rocks, hidden by the elevations—
his frame—peeled naked—welcomes the ocean, with one
arm dangling in the water, like a curved path from fins
to feet. The reflection of the moon spackles over the
indigo of his eyes with the colour of devotion, and it
fades to purple. The craggy surface prickles his back,
cracking old and new wounds open until a streak of
vermilion comes out. But his skin glistens, as if newly-
formed. To bear the bite of salt, he forms muffled cries,
revealing the white coral quality of his teeth. Tristan lets
out an airy gasp, as the water rises to his temples, his
hair like seaweed. When he ceases to cry and pant at
the sounds of the ocean, he becomes a bed of molluscs
covered in shells, until the crack of dawn.