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The Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life
Edited by Andrei Codrescu
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the making and unmaking of person
The Making and Unmaking of Person

Debris of Her Night
by Joanna Hooste

The city speaks in tongues, a mangled monologue she can't seem to understand. A language drawn from history, hate, fear, the amnesia of head injuries--her head cracked open on the edge of an antique coffee table when her father drank half a bottle of vodka and knocked her over the same way he knocked over the garbage can. The table too was in ruins, and she saw her father crying the next night, kneeling next to it with the pieces in his hand, running his fingers over the fine design.
Never a dispassionate observer, she remembered well her first visit to New York City, giddy with weed and heady with the utter strangeness of a place she's never been, feeling comfortable that everyone in the town is a stranger to her. A blank slate. An escape better than any she's known. An escape from herself, her past, judgment, preconceived notions. The welter of her life left behind. For a few brief moments, she was able to waive her identity. Though traversing the city was ominous at times, though she quickened her step in certain areas, though she made sure to stay on populated streets, she reveled in her anonymity, refusing to carry identification.
     Walking through the Village, Chelsea, and Soho in the November cold, the subway rumbled and waste misted up out of manholes, clinging to her clothes. In New York, no one can sleep at night unless they shower first, except for the men you see on the street, in doorways, any spot they can find that shields them from the wind, or the kid she passed with several small bills in one hand, a cigarette in the other, and a syringe laying near his hand. These images along with sirens intermittently interrupted her sleep, broke through the thin barrier of a pillow she feebly put over her scarred head.
     She can't sleep unless she takes a barbiturate. She can't wake up before two in the afternoon.
     The next day, when the pill started to fade, and the sun began to brighten her room, she walked out in to the hallway to smoke, to sift through the debris of her night. A short Asian man with only four bottom teeth remaining and wearing a pink robe, started a conversation with her. He introduced himself as Chuck, and she made small talk although she'd rather be alone, especially since her face was tear-streaked, and she was busy examining the Ambrose Bierce hallways--long and narrow like the entrance to life or the exit of death. He asked her if she was married, and since her left hand was in her pocket, and she was desperate for some sort of boundary, some sort of quick, thick wall between her and this person, she said yes.
     He walked away. He shuffled down the hall in his black slippers and pink robe. The city told its stories but didn't translate, and she was left with a milieu of language, a script with all the answers--answers broken into slivers that splinter her dreams.
     There are maps too that she can't decipher, people who avert their eyes and bump into her on the street as if she were a piece of ill-placed furniture. So she smoked and tried to remember--because for two years she did nothing but spend all of her time forgetting, and this is where it got her--watching an old man walk down the hallway, wondering why she took up so little space.




home archives submit black market comrads hot sites search ec chair peotick kultur anti-amthropomorphism
new economics of late capitalism gallery zounds the making and unmaking of person
diaries and memoirs translation and her retinue
the book of revelations and epiphanies working class sweat
the making and unmaking of person the corpse reads classics letters

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