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A boy on the train asked me why I have a skull on my wrist. I wondered if he meant I was going to die. He asked if it glows in the dark. Then he asked me to buy a candle for five dollars. When we went through a tunnel, I couldn’t see anything. I got off at 16th and walked up Valencia. It had been threatening to rain when I left, but now the sun was out. Everyone was smiling, which scared me. I kept crossing out words as I went along. The street was lined with blank spaces. I wanted to disappear into them.
“Eraserhead” is essentially a film about a man afraid of becoming a father. During the filming, David Lynch’s daughter Jessica was born. I felt sickened by the streaking lights: red, white, yellow, glowing against the glass. And everything was glass. I thought I would break if you touched me. And then you did. Sometimes when I’d leave for work it would still be dark out, but the streetlights would be turned off as if they knew that nature had made a mistake. How do they know when it’s getting dark, I asked. Someone must tell them.
As we lay in bed, she said, “It’s getting dark out,” as if I were a machine. We were busy getting the dark out like an oil stain on asphalt. A spot in the cornea. First the grey then the green washed out of the paragraph, leaving only numbers. I was trying to describe what the air felt like walking to the BART station. To loosen the grip of my youth? Now I only want to explain what it feels like when nothing happens. The weather becomes an occasion. Everyone is out in the middle of it. Today is Lincoln’s birthday. The weather becomes the occasion.
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But I do miss the hymns, / the small, hard apples with their dimpled skin. I do miss / things.
The vast hinterlands of the Global South’s cities are generating new solidarities and ideas of what counts as a life worth living.
Protests in China are shining a light not only on the country’s draconian population management but restrictions on workers everywhere.