Pastoral in Busan by Steve Chang

Elegy

In our play, we cobbled together a makeshift childhood to overlay all you hadn’t yet put to rest. There was another aspect to this, too, though.

 

Often, I’d be confused by your arguing about purported wrongs that hadn’t occurred. You’d accuse so hatefully—as if in a trance—that I’d be tempted to look over my shoulder. Who was there? I didn’t know whom you were addressing. I could’ve acted differently if I had.

 

We could’ve wound our way through your past, working backwards, back to where the gravity swirled densest: your habit of striking men, both strange and familiar, and daring them to hit you back; the truth about your broken orbital bones; the JV track coach who’d closed in as if he had known; and what had happened when you were a child, constantly, while your mother was upstairs with her wine.

 

All we did though, it seems, was relive the aftermath, endlessly.

 

I regret the role I played until I started to suspect what was happening. It’s only now that I can better understand what you might’ve conveyed, and to whom, the multiplicities implied, when you said, “I’m not a real person to you. I’m a part of your imagination.”

 

Still, what do I work with now if not symbols? To whom do I address this if not myself?