Angela Veronica Wong

Labor

Participate. Your comments are immensely helpful. Someone needs to maintain this garden. It’s too much for the two of us. Take a carrot or a squash. Since I’ve reached childbearing age, I can’t stand a line break. Any truncation is unbearable. I can’t even think about the insides of websites. I’ll take on the role of her cruelest boyfriend. Yes, she will whisper, taking back the role of herself.

A monster, it will blow up it will blow out I will blow up. When she arrived at the clinic she wore a winter coat but it was fall. The waiting room was too warm, of course it’s too warm but I never expect that. Instead of taking the coat off, she zips it up high, covering her neck. Her bag was stuffed up, filled with magazines, books, knitting. Anything she saw. What would she want to do.

Nothing special, this waiting room, or the waiting. I could be waiting for a tooth cleaning or flu shot. Health administrators must all order their chairs from the same warehouse store.

Framed landscapes suggest a soothing transference.

I should have put the bag down. Instead I kept it on my shoulder. I signed in.

He said, “Sorry, we can’t help you.”

“Why?” I asked.

“You’re not on the list.”

I didn’t respond.

He repeated, “Your name isn’t on the list.”

“What list?” I asked.

“It’s all catalogued,” he said. “All marked down.”

“What list?” This time I was a glitch. “What list?” The strap of my bag dug into my shoulder. This wasn’t supposed to take so long. I should’ve brought fewer books. I should’ve put the bag down at my feet and now it’s too late. To do so now would be to admit defeat. I shifted weight. I was still holding the pen.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “There’s a list. We can’t help you if your name isn’t on the list.”

It was a blue pen. Maybe it had the clinic’s name on it.

“You’ll have to leave,” he said.

Maybe someone else was there and escorted me out.

.

“They are watching their houses be destroyed by lava,” she said. “For the closure.”

I was hosting a party. We were celebrating.

“Where’s the bathroom?” I heard someone ask.

Don’t shit in my toilet, I thought. It was getting hot too hot too many people inside a small apartment like an accusation of wordplay. How can you get out of it? In heat like heat I saw lists:

Write

Plan

Send

Prop

Write

Clean

Reply

Write

Write

Write

“Remember the spiders,” I heard from across the room.

I opened the oven and a ladybug flew out. Far past her season, how did she get there? I feel like a lemon wedged between my teeth, a forced wide smile. Noticeable? So large.

.

At the clinic.

“We can’t help you.”

A spider on the washcloth. Husbands are more emotionally compelling so I’ll turn him into a husband. Being possessed by him is charming, even though I wouldn’t want it for myself. Not everything is meant to be a truth or heard at all. I want to be a part of it, the bread-winning research, the making and accumulating, the gravitational shift of politics, the pressure behind the eyes that moves down into the throat then moves into and around the head. Washing dishes with rubber gloves sliced at the second finger.

Put down your seed coat. Work with me.

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I Won’t Be Available for You to Come Tomorrow Because I’m Going to the Moon

If you go to the moon then I can pack tomorrow morning. So let me know okay? Otherwise I’ll see you tomorrow.

It’s possible for polar bears to die of broken hearts. I know because we saw one dying after his mate died. We were in a cold place, maybe like Alaska or the Artic or somewhere we shouldn’t have been. We opened him up because we were hungry we were stranded there was no food and I was so sick of the canned corn we found by the fishing site.

After that I started to prefer sitting with a pillow in my lap. We used our fingernails to open the cans I promise that is what happened I know it seems really really hard to believe.

Dad says we’re hallucinating or delusional or something with an l followed by a u but I took pictures on my cell phone and everything I knew people wouldn’t believe us.

Then Kim opened up the bear and left my phone inside where the heart is.

When I looked up polar bear jokes none of them were particularly funny. But I was really proud that my little sister remembered the punch line to “What did the polar bear eat for lunch?” Still, when the polar bear died, was it appropriate to tell the joke? When I’m older, I’ll write to the advice columnist about my behavior.

I don’t mean to be crude but we were so cold and my eyes were stinging from the wind. It felt like a hangnail when I use acetone remove my nail polish. Sometimes I like to line up all my nail polish bottles on my dresser like little soldiers with tall black hats. I would aim them at the bathroom door when my older sister was showering and ask, “Kim are you almost done? Kim are you almost done?”

When I was looking up jokes there was a category called “ethnic jokes.” Kim was named after Margaret Kim because my mom thought All-American Girl broke barriers. I thought Margaret was a good name for my teddy bear and Kim never forgave me. When it was time for dinner I would say “I’ll go and get Margaret and Kim.” “Stop it” she would hiss at me “stop it stop it stop” but I didn’t care I thought the names together were beautiful. She hated it because back then in the 90s the 90s weren’t cool.

But then again maybe Kim was getting back at me for answering “The moon in the night sky while you are shaking your head.” She had asked: “What’s black and white, black and white, black and white.”