Sous Rature

Ching-In Chen

Identification Song
            after Sylvia La's La La La: Leaf Strange Scream

The Origins of Rice Paper: a journal scrap story:  My friend is a paper-maker.  We met one winter when I still did not know the story I would tell.  I watched her for one month while I tried to start the story in the stove.  The water was dead in the pot.  What I do know is that rice paper is a thin, delicate material resembling paper, made from the rice-paper tree.  When I did not want to write anymore, I would knock on her window.

may you be loved
may you be healthy
may you be safe
may you live with ease

Brother (straight gaze):                                            Sister (askance):        Name: MaMa's Secret
          two eyes dead on:                                                    bold right eye:                      BN: ?
                    I saw where she placed those tricycles.                a black-winged heft DOB: ?
                    I asked her about the bombs, but.                       shadow                      DOA: ?
                                                                                                    riding on her grandmother
                                                                                            hidden left eye:
                                                                                                    what is malleable?
                                                                                                    a perched bird

           first la: may I may I may I may I may I may I may I may I may I may I may I may I may I may I may I

The Origins of Charcoal: a journal scrap story:  She let me in by the side door; I stamped out the snow from my shoes.  Then, we executed the drawings.  They turned from a dark, grayish brown to black water.   We distilled this into a long, skinny shape.  Sometimes, this liquid would not behave.  We squeezed and begged.  It wouldn't listen.  We crammed it, shoved it into the long wooden boat, its new house.  It cried and screamed, but we did not care.  I needed a pencil.

          second bold LA:       May the unfriendly persons be well, happy, and peaceful.
                                                                                                                                                  What they carried:

                                                                                                            To translate, to sacrifice,                                                                                         granulated sugar page, reborn card stock,
                                                                                                                      premium egg shell,                                                            Silver palimp:                                               natural brown,
                                               mining for stories,                                        rooted, topsoil,
                                               edges rubbed off when                                           fist brick
                                                          grandfather                                       midnight chain
                                                          tricycle                                                           christen

The Origins of Xerox Transfers: a journal scrap story:  We had a fight.  A discussion, she says.  We needed an arbiter.  We asked my friend who speaks neither of our languages.  She claims he's partial to me.  We copied out our testimonials and mailed them to him separately.  To be safe, we trademarked our stories with the Department of Justice.

            third translated la (The Official Immigrant Song):  They do not have mouths so I do not know.  The sound of gold in my teeth.

The Origins of Memory: a journal scrap story:  The judge took a long time to deliberate.  Many songs passed between us until one day, a letter arrived, condemning us both.  We had told lies.  Whose story were we trying to alter?

may we all


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