Thursday, August 15, 2019

Thai Farmers Race Their Buffalo

A delivery boy rests his cigarette on top of the mailbox and slips into the deli. I watch it turn to ash as Lebanese rap blasts over the loudspeakers. A ragged gray-skinned man staggers past my table and points at my falafel, asks if I’m going to finish it. It doesn’t taste great and if I was less hungry I’d give it to him. I’ve given up meat in memory of her; for years she was a strict vegan and extremely vocal about it. A passing girl tugs at the hem of her dress, trying to make it cover more than it is capable of. A pink sightseeing bus rumbles past, its passengers lolling in their seats, all of them wearing sunglasses despite the thick, low clouds. The front page of the Asian Reporter reads Thai Farmers Race Their Buffalo in Show of Gratitude. A couple crosses against the light, traffic screeches to a halt. The woman waves at me though I don’t recognize her at all. . Last night at an acquaintance’s fiftieth birthday party at a crushingly bland banquet hall I found myself having conversations with people I hadn’t seen in years, people so unlike her, well-meaning but without passion, we had nothing to say to one another yet we kept talking. They'd hired a magician, an Asian man who throughout his entire act flirted with the only other Asian person there, a gorgeous woman with long, brown legs, holding hands with her skinny white boyfriend. "We have a complexion connection!" the magician yelled at one point, then continued onto his tricks involving dimes and matches and trick ropes and little red foam balls. It was embarrassing. Even the food was bad. I wished she had been there so we could laugh about it, maybe reminisce about the time I took her out for Ethiopian food for the first time, I was so excited, I thought she'd love it as much as I did, but the food was terrible. I felt so sad and disappointed, had wanted so badly to have a nice meal with her, I hadn't seen her in so long. Last week, another friend turning 50 also had a magician at his party, who stabbed the birthday boy through the neck with a sword, then made a guinea pig appear in an empty box. I think about my vanished friend, pawing halfheartedly at our beyeyanetu. She will never turn fifty. After lunch I ride the streetcar home, watching the world slip past and disappear. I am trampled, plowed back into the earth by the pounding hooves. May I crack my shell and sprout and stretch toward teh sun, may I grow tall and heavy with nourishing leaves, my limbs laden with blossoms that turn into fruit that smiles just like her as it ripens.

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