issue 12 FEATURE: Jami nakamura lin


On reflexivity: When an itch wakes me at midnight I can never remember my face. As a child I’d burrow to the bottom of my bed, smothered by covers, whisper who am I who am I who am I. I knew the answer, the first three or four times I asked. The Bible frowns upon such loss: the reapplication of the veil. 

On symmetry: Bipolar creates a fundamental schism, they say, a constant seesawing between two—Gods, I say. The one of the light and the one of the dark, though which is which none on earth can tell. 

On transitivity: When you serve two masters your list of desires always dangles on the tip of your tongue, ready to be scooped into your soft palate but never arriving, leaving you dumb and open mouthed like a humpback on a sandbar, uvula flopping ka-thunk, ka-thunk. In Japanese mythology the whale’s image appears again and again, sometimes as ghost, sometimes as harbinger, sometimes as a skeleton whose bones we scrape until no cartilage remains. 

Addition Postulate: Before I turned twenty-two I said I’d never be a mother, said I’d be the kind who would forget it—it—in the backseat, would out-wail it, would pass on her diseased genes. Now I see a baby in every seedling, in every omelet. Odd how the wanting comes when it’s impossible, when you look at the figures and the maths don’t come out straight.

Subtraction Postulate: Whose black hair would be as mine, whose flat lids and bright eyes. Who would continue the line I tracked stem to root, three countries and three hundred years, face after face after forgotten face. Whose soul I stockpile prayers for years in advance, that the hot stones of my rage will stay in my belly, will not leave the womb. 

Betweenness of Points: Whose face will always be tangible, whose conchshell earlobes, whose curlicue hair, whose cloud of Johnson & Johnson can overpower the scent of my fear. Whose presence I know cannot negate my body’s itch, its hemming and hawing, its Saharan droughts and neap tides. And yet whose future tense palliates like a dampened cloth: the ecstasy of looking toward, of waiting for.


Jami Nakamura Lin received her MFA from the Pennsylvania State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in PANK, Passages North, The Baltimore Review, and others. A born and bred Chicagoan, she is currently working on a novel based on Japanese mythology and folklore.