‘Zazen’ by Vanessa Veselka
From Red Lemonade:
I went to work and a guy I wait on said he was leaving. He said everyone he knew was pulling out.
“Canada is just not far enough. Mostly Mexico. A bunch to Thailand. Some to Bali.”
He always orders a Tofu Scramble and makes me write a fucking essay to the cook. No soy sauce in the oil mix, no garlic, extra tomato, no green pepper. Add feta. Potatoes crispy and when are we going to get spelt. He holds me personally responsible for his continued patronage. I hope he dies. I’d like to read about it.
My brother Credence says people who leave are deluding themselves about what’s out there. I just think they’re cowards. Mr. Tofu Scramble says I should go anyway, that it’s too late. I want to but I can’t. Maybe when the bombs stop, or at least let up. Nobody thinks it’ll stay like this. I call it a war but Credence says it isn’t one. Not yet. I say they just haven’t picked a day to market it. Soft opens being all the rage. My last few weeks down at grad school it was so bad I thought everything was going to shake itself apart. I tried to focus on my dissertation, follow the diaspora of clamshells but every night it got worse. It’s not any better here—here, there, now, tomorrow, next Wednesday—geologically speaking it’s all the same millisecond. The gentle rustle of armies crawling the planet like ants. Anybody with any sense knows what’s coming.
I was in yoga yesterday and this girl started crying. Raina, who teaches on Mondays, went over, put her hands on the girl like a faith healer, her fingers barely grazing her shoulders. She closed her eyes and let the girl cry while she breathed. Everyone was watching like they were going to see sparks or something. I was anyway. I would have liked that. The girl calmed down. Her breath was hard and her eyes swollen. Raina talked about being okay with how you find yourself on the mat and I thought there’s no one here who’s okay with that. If you took the roof off we would all look like little gray worms, like someone lifted the rock; too close, hot, bent and wet. Well, maybe not hot because of the mud but that’s still what I thought when the girl was crying. I was glad it wasn’t me.
Credence says if half the privileged white marketing reps in my yoga class voted for something other than reductions in their property tax, something might actually happen. I’d like to see something happen. Something big that wasn’t scary, just beautiful. Some kind of wonderful surprise. Like how fireworks used to feel. Now I’m no better than a dog.