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"Sight Beyond Sight" by Uzodinma Okehi

(Iowa City 1994)

She’d had on khaki shorts, nothing crazy. Trees in the breeze . . . And I remember little to nothing else about my first week in college. Lots of standing in lines, introductions. That it was warm, hot even. Percussion from somewhere, far-off, a marching band. Passing through a group of girls headed for the IMU. White girls, except one. And wait, I’d never seen a deep, dark brown Asian girl like that before. Hair, jet-black, down to her hips. Walking, like that. Laughing like that . . . The problem in life is you can’t un-see shit. And once you start dreaming, okay now you’ve also got a choice to make, even if it’s an unconscious one. Seeing her in glimpses, rest of that year. Back to me asking around, for weeks, to find out, yeah she’s definitely in the Mayflower. That’s Ellen Cho. And so what? 

That night, back to the dorm from the Union bar. Not drunk, but stumbling, dizzy with lust for Ellen Cho. Roommate, out as usual, at his girlfriend’s. Crash on the bed. Wide awake, I’m staring at the ceiling, the walls. But you can only jerk off so much. So as I’ve begun to do lately, I get out paper, my stack of comics. I start drawing. 

Jittery, a twiddling, nerve-pulling runway, touch-down, to pencil scratching, scratching, then, finally loose, pulling fast, mostly figures and buildings—clench-fist, huge-foot-figures, and as always like I’m really moving, lunging, soaring all over the room inside my skull . . .  

Also, a disturbing pattern! And already, how many times, seeing some girl, even only once, from that point, life feels somehow sweepingly altered. Not that I’m not gonna fuck Inez. Because I’m right there, just gotta break through . . . Also! And also, that table I had in my room, at six, seven years old, with legs to look like giant pencils, and feeling absurdly, thrillingly into it, this drawing all night, and sitting here with paper and pencil, funny the little details I remember . . .

Drawing, and Ellen Cho and Hong Kong, and non-secrets of my childhood past. An hour? Maybe three. Sweat under my arms. And none of it makes sense anymore, drawing the same hooked line over and over, down the page. Until the phone rings. Without thinking, I get up off the floor.



Your number 10-shirt, your Afrobeat black president, circa 1994. House of Hunger, available now at:

Uzodinma Okehi is @whoisbokoye and @nightslikedeepfelt

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