Sueyeun Juliette Lee, Excerpt from Relinquish the Sky

Daylight, No Grief

 

HAIL, holy Light, offspring of Heaven first-born!

John Milton,
Paradise Lost

 

Of firsts and beginnings, light knows the most. In its primary, faint motion of micro-tremor then radiant turn, swelling with uplift and slight ecstasy, it is light that knows all true names.

To seek out origins and their progressive trajectories, we have taught ourselves to investigate the phenomenal rays of long duration from star swarms and curling celestial storms, translating the myriad intensities of their transmission into timelines, elemental compositions, interior tectonics and churn. We peer into the sun’s blinding recesses and can reasonably conjecture at a massive discharge’s origins to its finest shred of that first instant. We attune ourselves to light’s potencies and emerge otherwise. With insight. We know.

I began my inquiry into day, simply: can I decipher a similar capacity to translate and speak the light with my living human body?

And by doing so, can I relinquish the intensities of orphan grief?

To speak with light is to encounter the trace of the originating mother body through its lost child. An orphan being, the light reaching us is jettisoned without turning its head back home. A constant flight… of some varieties in duration or decay, but ever onwards and with consistency in its appeal. The steadfastness of its message across vast spans remains nearly uncorrupted, and we can look back through its narration into a body that is no longer there.

Oh tell us where you came from. Tell us of that body, its home.

My intuition told me that by confronting this originating, orphan phenomenon fully–by admitting its potencies, its possibilities to transmit into and transform me–those aspects in me that were steeped in abandonment could be relinquished and freed. As an evaporation, a total admission into the sky’s aerial, benign intelligence.

I want to inhabit that day.

 


 

A Broken Link in a Chain

 

North Korean propaganda reveals “the orphan to be the national symbol of North Korea, the figure, it seems, most capable of being revolutionary. After all, just as the orphan is a broken link in a chain, so revolutions seek to create a radical break with history.”

Clare Callahan, Duke U.
Human Rights Archive

 

This pains me to read. My father, my mother, the various people I loved—they have had written into their spirits this un-requitable break. Reft from ancestors, family, homelands, and languages, these orphans populate my spirit. And I of them, too. We have cut and swung out at each other and at ourselves in the way we reached for that space inside, caving in. I swell with a novel vacuity, such bright black, quiet eyes.

This pains me to read. My father, my mother, the various people I loved—they have had written into their spirits this un-requitable break. Reft from ancestors, family, homelands, and languages, these orphans populate my spirit. And I of them, too. We have cut and swung out at each other and at ourselves in the way we reached for that space inside, caving in. I swell with a novel vacuity, such bright black, quiet eyes.

Where’s the chain that lashes at this throat of history? The torn throat that fails to sing. To break from, to swallow without enunciating. To turn aside in the dust and moan.

I am going to have terrible, consequential dreams.

 


 

A Monster

 

By degrees, I remember, a stronger light pressed upon my nerves, so that I was obliged to shut my eyes. Darkness then came over me, and troubled me; but hardly had I felt this when, by opening my eyes, as I now suppose, the light poured in upon me again.

Mary Shelley,
Frankenstein

 

dapple

 

flicker brook &
stream gold green soft
curl fern shook

Namelessness is another way of inhabiting my body without intentions. The green ferns of the forest floor curl gently as I walk past, indicating to me how we are the same. Sky folds miraculously, reappears in the breaks between young oak trees, dappled maple shade and blue. Silence and softly. A doe and her fawn emerge to observe me. We stand momentarily apprising our bodies, the shared way we inhabit the space around us in that instant. A flick of the tongue and they sink back into the hill. Small charm of the brook as it rumbles earnestly over crayfish and softened stones. My hand glides across rock lips, gathers on a mossy face as I kneel down.

 

 

I knew, and could distinguish, nothing;
but feeling pain invade me on all sides,

 

I sat down and wept.

 


 

I Relinquish a Mother, Inside

 

It flickers, this pain, when it calls to me by name. He whispers to me, but right now I am only able speak the matte black language of lead. What is asleep inside and where is its home. I can’t account for the things I never had. I feel him reach towards me–his desire is soft, endless, earthy. His hands sweep slowly across my arms, my forehead, stomach, hips and sides. Why does “welcome” require using your arms? He presses me to his chest firmly, hands along my back. I must account for the ones I abandoned or lost. I smell cedar.

An unfamiliar space. Without longing. I want to get inside this feeling and recalibrate my ability to recognize a new way of being “home.” Dark stars move through my eyes. I keep them wide open, observe the flecks of light reflecting from his.

Afterwards, I turn aside on my pillow, eyes clamped tight, transforming the white lamp light into a speckled night sky that falls down across my face, my mind.

 


 

A “Monster”

 

There was one boy who was in clear distress. His face contorted with pain. No one stopped to even look at him. He walked about, holding his clasped hands up to his chest. I am not sure how old he was. Perhaps eight or nine. He was very small. The documentary was made over ten years ago. My spirit tells me this young North Korean boy did not survive. And when I think of this, I realize that the only documents that attest to his life could very well be the footage that was used in that film. And I was observing the recreated light patterns of what had once echoed off his body and into the camera’s lens, captured.

 


 

The Black Magma Inside You

 

After all. After all that. After tender pinecones. After gnarled roots gripping stone faces and treacherous scree. After vivid electric surges across the watery sheen. After lavender pale dusk of hours. After the dreamless sleep of day.

After distance. After the squall devoured the shore. After no gulls. After frozen waterfalls with broken teeth. After darkness. After all needle thin rays of starlight in a black gale. After lonely hoarfrost. After distance. After desolation.

What have I learned to say.

Can I say it.

 

All things in the universe transmit, casting informational streams from themselves. What does the heat generated from my body say? What am I broadcasting at every quivering instant? And the light that reaches me and interacts with my body, my perceptions, my ideas. What information is being so blindly delivered into me?

This orphaned light, jettisoned from a distant. It never touches back or communicates with these far origins, but runs rampant always onward from them. No tethers, but darts.

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