13 faces of cate & i

we sit on the narrow strip of sand, splayed blankets a colorful juxtaposition against crumbling rock. to wrap the entropic in cloth. i arch backwards, feel the breeze sigh against my glistening forehead. all is but sun and sea, and brine, slapping me on the ass.

recently my friend danny has gotten it in his head that we are to be instagram famous. sure, i tell him, why not? i have always wanted to be a model. i think everyone our age wants to be a model, he responds. a jagged slice of rock breaks through the shadow of his hair. we talk about skinny gaga, how weird has become the new cool, that queer is now the new crew. gaga has dropped the a. her glitter now gags. when everyone has on a wig, hair becomes obsolete. there is no longer anything to cover.

i used to be skinny. in fact, ask my mother. she is always slyly checking the circumference of my upper arm. gauging how much meat hangs from the needle we call bone. meat–tender, caramelized by the sun. you’ve lost some weight again, she notices on our walk. oh? i say, feigning surprise. we have had this contention for years, now, ever since i hit peak bottom of 100 pounds. at five foot eight, i stood like a slender pine. the wind whistled through my hair, threatened to escape through the crevices of my spine. my mother was once a pine, and even now she worries about the direction of the wind. she has not been 100 pounds since she became pregnant with me.

it has been almost ten years since the release of fame monster, danny and i realize. when do icons die? or is their immortalization only consummated through ossification. i feel like fun is reserved only for the famous, danny tells me. the only way to know anyone do anything is to be somebody. kylie jenner’s catch-22: the only way to live in los angeles is to be somebody. the only way to be somebody is to live.

danny tells me all this as he snaps pictures of me. i practice lounging, imagining a sun-kissed mausoleum. why do non-black people want their ashes scattered in the sea? for all her verse, even dionne brand cannot answer that question. but she knows: nothing dies of old age in the sea. under the effigy of once-crustal cliff, i arch my back in approximation of down dog. channel my inner guru, my most important teacher. namaste, forget the corpse of the ground. exhale.

suiyi tang