China

My father fell from the bed. With a loud, but cushioned thud against the carpet, that seemed to make all the walls of the room pulsate, he fell onto the floor, now hacking, and gasping.

My mother slid across and jumped off the bed, and with her feet on the floor now, too, grabbed and tried to lift my father’s arms up with her own, attempting to help bolster his entire body up.

‘Duo-duo, come help!’ she yelled.

I had propped myself up on the bed on my left elbow, staring at them. I froze for a second. Just then, my head seemed completely empty of all thought and emotion. I was certain, I am certain, that for a second, or even for just a split-second of a second, it was as if someone, outside the window of our hotel room, had pointed a remote control directly at our room, at my father, my mother, and me, at the beds, still quavering from our movements, at the sheets dangling off the corner of the beds, at the palpitating walls, at the dust whirling through the ray of light of the lamp, and hit pause . . .

 

by HC Hsu from Middle of the Night

Advertisements

Rain

It finally rained a little yesterday. It’s strange, I never seem to see the rain. It becomes something else. I usually see only wet sidewalks, streets, the moistened-over gravel, only a dab of a shade darker than when it is dry, it seems like. A cloudy gray puddle fills up a pothole. The sky is the same color of gray. My sand tinted car is parked outside, in my driveway, ensconced under tiny, sparkling droplets of dew, and when I open the driver’s side door and try to get in, my right leg always steps in the grass in the lawn next to the concrete driveway, the cold, rough, wet blades of the sea green St Augustine grass pawing at my calf. Then I know it had rained. From these traces, signs, keepsakes of the storm.

In Central Texas, it seems the rain falls only in the middle of the night. My curtains are drawn over my window by the bed, and I would often be woken up during the night by the rain, in fits, one wave after another, splashing against the laminated glass, like the click-clacking of beads on an abacus. Erratic, and abstract. Just sound, no picture. In the morning, I would have forgotten all of this. It’s not until I go out of the house, and see the scattered odds and ends the storm left behind all about my house, that I’ll fit together these two pieces of phenomena.

I watched Blade Runner for the first time late last night. One of the androids said as he was dying: ‘All those moments will be lost, in time, like tears, in the rain.’ Los Angeles in 2019 seems to be eternally drenched in rain. Torrential rain, unrelenting—real window washers, sheets and sheets and sheets. I couldn’t help wondering what their budget for water was. As it was raining outside, it was also raining on television.

by HC Hsu

from Middle of the Night, a book in the works to appear from Deerbrook Editions sometime in 2015
also author of Love is Sweeter, http://lethepressbooks.com/

Parallel

You get on.

You don’t see me.

You take the seat two rows in front of me.

I see your backside, the back of your head, your dark brown, somewhat frizzed and wavy hair. For some reason, I don’t tap you on the back, or your shoulder (I see you turn around—surprised, smiling, your eyes sparkling, an underwater cavernous limestone blue—‘Hey, when did you get on?’ you ask, and try to stand up as you jolt forward, your body leaving your seat, as you find a way to balance yourself and move toward me)—but I stay still, and we remain where we are.

I watch you. I don’t see your face. It’s a strange feeling, as if I were no longer me, or were somewhere else completely, or I had simply disappeared, evaporated, from here and now. It occurs to me I had never up until then, seen you. In your completeness.

In your solitude.

I wonder what you are like without me.

Yourself plus the world minus me.

 

by HC Hsu

from Middle of the Night, a book in the works to appear from Deerbrook Editions sometime in 2015
also author of Love is Sweeter, http://lethepressbooks.com/

He also has a translation of Chinese dissident and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo’s official biography coming out in 2015 by Rowman & Littlefield.