outwait outrun outwit


an archive of pleasures, wounds, sublimations
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On MUNI I read with one hand wrapped around the stems of wire painted-net butterflies. As the train rocks steady, children buzz alive behind my ear, the sound ordinary yet foreign, forgotten pennies chattering copper in a shaken jar.


I stand under an open-air shower, naked in front of these men's eyes. But I do not feel like a woman, and I am sure that they do not regard me as one. The water is ice-cold, but no matter. It occurs to me that it will be years before I once more know what it means to feel clean. The first shower could last a week and still it would not suffice. I step clear of the water and a nurse empties powder all over my body. I am handed a fresh blanket which I drape around my shoulders. A doctor inspects my tufts of hair. A nurse cuts them off. Again, a factory line. Again, we are being processed. But this time, for life.

—from The Nature of Blood, a novel by Caryl Phillips


Emerging from underground, I blink, mildly disconcerted, wondering if all of this—new sunlight, clamorous street, the langorous memory of him sleep-warm in my arms before he slipped away to work—strikes real and indisputable.


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