Stripped of my shyness, I tumble along
As a girl from Hong Kong drops dead in Japan
I try to feel the loss but I just can’t.
Jack was nimble, Jack was quick
He almost won the race, didn’t know that he was sick
A time bomb in his head
I never liked his mother
Now her son is dead.
He was a prematurely troubled child who liked to brag:
“Someday I’ll be a famous athlete
You’ll see me in the paper and say:
‘I was this boy’s nanny once.'”
I think about his brother, little Reef
who’d smile at me with his missing teeth and ask:
“Hannah, do you know what?”
“No”, I’d say.
I still don’t.
Remember, remember the girl we all knew
She’s getting ever younger while the rest of us grow old
A good friend saw her fall
She told me there was fire in the air.
They have buried her beneath trees
Between vineyards and softly sloping hills
Her tombstone is pink, a child’s.
So I roam the land of laughter, I walk the streets of smiles
With my heart on my sleeve and my lungs around my neck
A topsy-turvy dancer, a pretty tasty bite
California roll, California role, California gurl.
There are days when your skin is so thin
They could pop you with the prick of a pin.
I’m not the witch of the west, just a wicked wench.
My grandma suffered from a scarring of the lungs
She suffocated in a hospital bed
I wasn’t with her when she died
Sometimes I think the same thing is in store for me.
The strongest of hugs and the warmest of hearths
And a small, mouldy bedroom full of books
Some mornings when I wake I feel she’s still with me.
Spending years in a cramped little shop in the city of soot
Among bread and rolls and cakes and sweets
Day in, day out, breathing coal dust and flour
Dreaming of far-away places.
A flour bag falls over in Germany
A girl breaks her neck in Japan
She was a Facebook profile before she died
She was a handwritten letter at home.
Light, feathery writing that said:
“he hold my hand in Victoria Harbour
facing the beautiful night view of Hong Kong
and like that, we are together.”
Did her boyfriend watch her die?
Will life ever be the same?
I’m trying to picture the moment
when my lungs turn into wings
I want you to look at me but I can’t meet your eyes
I wish you’d hold my hand but I won’t have you see
That my hand is shaking while I pretend
to be reading a book — but look at me. Quick.