This piece was originally published in Quarto’s 2018 Spring Print Edition.
begins as a bedtime story. Annie surfaces for air, mouth leaking
white things into the sink. She spills forward until
I think she could split open: like all first children, she pretends to
die. I do not ask if I can see this. In one dream, we slice
open jackfruit, its belly a fresh storm under our tongues. This is
what it is to kiss her: the seeds burn through my mouth
for days. In Shanghai, we are sixteen, a new language cutting into
the body of the jackfruit. We fold and unfold our palms to
clean them. One night, we spend hours searching the dictionary
for the word that means naked. She tells me she is scared.
Me too, I say. In the living room, the television static is soft enough
to swallow, like a child hungry for her own ghost.
I learn that after the firstborn, girls are nameless. This is how
religion is made. Annie, I call, and she nods—in the dark,
we admit that we are sacred. That summer, the fruit is so golden
it is bloodless: the beginning of the world, as knowing as this.