Body Caught North

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Photo by Athena on

At the end of Ojii-chan’s dying, his body was buried north. The pits of his eyes, dilated in dark, were like split moons. As if a razor fashioned two slits to his flesh. That day, I remember Mama told me that the soul leaves through the eyes. That pupils punctuate when a body is sentenced; its dark pits inking periods.

I once had a nightmare of Ojii speaking through his eyes; his two mouths molding a swallow with every speech. He stood between a door frame, legs bent in bow, as his eyes ate at the distance between us. Mama says nightmares are natural when you sleep with a head compassed north. Sleeping north is like approximating your body to death.


When I was six, my uncle asked me to be his flower-girl for his wedding. So Mama picked me a blush skirt-dress, the kind that bloomed me into a tulip. She said to be careful running my fingers across the hem since a firm clutch could rip the tulle, leaving me unpieced and de-petaled. I remember twirling in front of the body-length mirror, hands waist-up, as I closed my eyes and imagined flowers falling from under. But a few days before the wedding, a floor lamp fell on my face, budding a bruise on my left eye. Having thought I was cursed, my soul now half-sucked through one pupil, I felt guilty if I bore flowers in a body betraying the living.

To compromise for my half-soul, I began taking naps north. At mid-day, when the sun flared through my window, I’d sprout my feet south so my head arrowed towards graves. Heat danced on my back as I daydreamed of being baptized into a greater gold. Mama grew afraid of my habit, and displaced her fear onto me when she started having the same nightmares of Ojii.

It’s known that myths are maternal instincts in disguise. That myths are matriarchal stories that help mold danger into something knowable, perceivable. So when Mama receives my dreams of Ojii speaking through his eyes, that’s her way of kneading us both back into herself; that’s her motherhood clasping us both on a shared shore, where fear and grief communicate our threads together. She stories fear into me, tells me that a curse is something that looms, something that tugs you deeper into the waiting room. But she’s careful to tell me that a curse is not a purpling of the eye. It’s not born from my head pointed towards an after. A curse, Mama affirms, is a body that cliffs; a body that defies maternal warning. It looks like me lying north, not because I signal a dying, but because I’ll grow my wait on death with each face held in defiance against her.

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