Ōtomo no Yakamochi (Vol. 19, poem 4291) in Man’yōshū.

 

Currently I’m dipping my toes and fingernails in the realm of the impossible. The one where boundaries live. Maybe the true ghost realm (for me?). The one that’s easily forgotten, but once known, turns towards you with a painful weird sort of vengeance. Slippery, only vaguely visible, seemingly unreal, often cited as unnatural. Ghost-like; hard to catch, to see, to understand and when they do show themselves they bring a pain and truth hard to swallow. And as ghosts do, they make you look to the past and into yourself.

Difficult, too, because it often comes with the realisation you are not as emotionally impenetrable and tough as you might have believed and wished you were. Tip tap, clicking and clacking, tok tok tok tok clank clank clank and booming. The sound of people, places, things, situations, little sometimes petty things crossing, without regard. Because how could there be understanding when you never knew these were boundaries (not meant to be crossed)? Or when they were crossed so often it no longer seemed like a strict line. Or when you were brought up believing your lack of clean delineators is what made you good, open, special. And, you whisper, are you sure these are boundaries, why can’t they be crossed because, if you look at it rationally and you take in the context of all these years then perhaps stepping on me was justified? Don’t you think?

Breathe. Pause. Distance. Observe. Look.

Kai Cheng Thom, A Place Called no Homeland

 

Do I let myself collapse ever inward, or can I chose to expand and draw a criss-crossing of lines and tell you: beware not to cross them. In a sense, don’t I let my old self, or rather my self that lives in other’s eyes collapse? And if so, what will my expansion come to mean to those around me? I am scared to ask if anger is in the mix. What will you do when you are not allowed to stomp so casually anymore? Or not allowed to stomp at all?

Maybe I’ll hum, sometimes I’ll whisper but can I show my ghostly boundaries, say them aloud? I’m terrified.