Noh Eunbi dies in a ditch in Delaware, and you will see her ghost. Miles away, on the Incheon bridge, under twin typhoons like twisting gears over the Korean peninsula, you will see her in a dress red as a bloodstain. Through your windshield’s spray of angry rain and whipping wipers, you will see her waterlogged skin, see her broken neck, see her mouth—like the yawning maw of a deadman—open:
In this howl, you will know the name of your shame.
Noh Eunbi dies in a ditch in Delaware, miles away from the boarding school where you become addicted to an addict. In abandoned barns behind campus, watch her tongue curl around the words of your second language. Match your tongue to hers. On dorm room floors, form the rieul in your mouth for words like byul, bul, saramdeul. Stencil out each other’s bodies with fingers light as breath. Love constellations of rug burns into the skin, and connect them with hands like salves. On nights like your birthday, use those hands to scrape vomit out of her mouth. When her nose bleeds like a fresh wound, hold a tissue to that small face and pretend to forget the hiding place for powders and pills. In the middle of the night, press your phone to your ear to hear the news, and watch your guilt manifest itself across the room like a black-robed god.
On that bridge to Seoul, remember when she taught you the word for water, the word for ghost. Put them together now. Amid rain and squall, you will meet her mul gwishin, but leave her there, pass through her ghost, watch the wraith of her dissipate like the cigarette smoke when she taught you how to eat yourself alive.
Hip Deep in the Chesapeake
It’s our job to watch the crabs while Scooter kills them. On the dock of Port Isobel, it is late afternoon. Or maybe early evening. We can’t be sure; they took our phones and iPods—anything with a clock—when we got off the boat. Welcome to Port Isobel, they said, leading us to the house where we’re not allowed to flush the toilet. It’s been three days of dock showers and trust fall bullshit. Now, we still don’t know what time it is; all we know is that we are hungry, and there are forty crabs in buckets, their claws morse coding last words to each other. Don’t let them out, Scooter said. We beat the crabs back with yard sticks and sniff our noses at crisp breezes. It is early September, and the bite of autumn is in the air, the temperature like the stale breath of heat—something that won’t linger, something we’ll miss. The other side of the island swallows the sunlight. Beyond the crabs and their buckets, beyond the docks and their showers, beyond the house where we can only flush shit, we see the sun through the trees, staccato like a flip book. The tick-tick of crab legs on plastic brings us back to the algae-tinged dock and the wisps of Spartina grass stretching towards us. Scooter’s hand’s inside a crab now. Light leaves a gilded frame around the writhing legs. Merciful, like a caress, he twists out the gills; its legs rag doll at its side. We are thirteen. It’s our first time seeing something die.