Friday, November 2, 2007

Vignettes, West of the Marianas Trench

Before the sun sets, you often see the tops of clouds that, though they appear to end at the horizon line of the sea, are just the tops of cumulus so enormous, they bend around the earth.

The Chinese women walk home from the garment factories after work. They wear flirty thin dresses and hold bright, clashing umbrellas against the sun.

The Korean tourists stop to take posed photos. "Here I am smelling this lovely plumeria." "Here I am playing air guitar beneath the rotating Hard Rock Cafe sign."

Dong, sushi chef at Shin Sen, makes the perfect, half-dozen sets of spicy tuna rolls. The waitresses can't add in English. You have to make sure they don't under or overcharge you. "No, that's your tip. You need to keep that." Or "The sake was fifteen dollars? Are you sure?"

For Halloween at school, I dressed as Lady Macbeth. The students had performed selected scenes from the play--complete with costumes, music, and flyers--in lieu of a test. I recycled the foil-wrapped, cardboard dagger one of the students had made for her group's staging of Macbeth stabbing Duncan. One of my usually reticent students came up to me with a smile. "Miss, I'll kill Duncan for you." Hallelujah, they'll remember Shakespeare.

For the weekend party, a teacher friend went as the Marianas Trench. (The deepest known oceanic trench in the world. Among other things, it keeps tsunamis from our island shores.) She wore a tiny plastic tugboat on a headband, a filmy dress of blue covered in dried seaweed, and strands of shells about her neck and waist. "To uncharted territory," she toasted. As the evening wore on, the tide pulled out, the full moon rose, and the wide, white swath of beach in front of her house was an open invitation to walk far, far away in the night silence. I accepted.