Wednesday, September 3, 2014
She's sixty years old , darts into and out of the herb shops in Monterey Park, haggling with the shop-owners, gathering bones and feathers, crushed pungent powders into brown paper bags. She buys a bag of bones at the Chinese grocery that she'll later boil in water for hours. The broth will fuel her marathon training. When a patient knocks at her door, she ushers him into her examining room, stands bright and wet-haired, her toes gnarled and exposed in cheap rubber sandals.
A woman brushes out her long black hair, flicks the white specks that gently fall onto her black nightgown. She dabs a couple drops of Acqua Di Gigli on her bared clavicle, traces down to shadow. She'll climb into bed alone, not so much a Miss Lonelihearts but more a fragrant missive to a phantom lover.
He's a waiter in a Chinese restaurant. He's taller than most Chinese men. She's the host, and she never gets it all quite right. She's only glimpsed the old man cooking in the kitchen, dumping the contents of plastic bags into steaming woks. Jackson keeps her outside, in the dining room. She knows he pines for her. They never raise their voices above whispers, and the whispers ride up and down over and under the plinking notes of Chinese music that plays from behind the front desk. His name is Jackson, and he's permed his hair. For your eyes only, he says.