if I could but hold you in my arms, listening to Miles Davis while lying on a powder-blue sofa. I could tell you the story about Avalokiteśvara’s encounter with a flying carp in the desert, or how the jaguar had its spots stolen by a particularly mischievous monkey named Huni. I’d tell you how I love to taste your skin on my tongue, and feel your lips pressed to mine.
We would lay underneath the open windows, staring at the sky between the oak leaves. A sampan floats over the house, the bottom of its hull covered in barnacles. How it came to float in the air, out of both its proper time and place, we do not know. The crew is mostly Malaysian, Cantonese, and Filipino pirates/smugglers, with an Okinawan captain. The captain (named Sessue) used to be a peasant fisherman on Okinawa, until a band of ronin attacked his house, kidnapped him, and sold him into slavery on the high seas. However, by a few twists of fate he now finds himself the leader of a group of seafaring felons, in a sampan with dirty orange sails and a few rusty pieces of cannon. The hold is leaky and the sails are patched in many places, but the crew is resourceful enough to keep their home and sole livelihood afloat. For many years, Sessue has plotted his revenge, while smuggling saffron and tiger skins, silks and rubies, opium and darjeeling tea from Singapore to Hong Kong and back. He has proven himself an excellent leader, unflinching yet cautious in negotiations with mandarins and madams alike. His temper in the heat of battle is ferocious, as if he is reliving the day when all was taken from him, his eyes rimmed red from sorrow and rage. How this boat and its diminutive captain, his head wrapped in a scarlet scarf, came to be floating above our house is as much a mystery to them as it is a mystery to us. They do not like it one bit, floating above suburban Maryland instead of the South China Sea. The hold is full of Hokkai porcelain, kangaroo skins, and dried ginseng, and they want to be in port in time for the Dragon Festival. Sessue orders Tang Nam, the navigator, to plot a course west, but of course Tang Nam has no idea where that might take them. He suggests dropping anchor, and 3rd Mate Felipe concurs with him. Sessue wrinkles his brow, curses the storm gods, and gives the order to drop anchor.
In your eyes, I want to lose myself for days, make love to you for an entire weekend as parades drift by under the windows of this apartment in Buenos Aires (or maybe it is in Bahia, Tel Aviv, or Avignon). I would gently caress your hips, kiss your neck endlessly, and tangle my limbs with yours. I would bring you a platter full of gouda cheese, a small marmite of foie gras, and chunks of torn baguette for you to enjoy with your moderately-priced Malbec. I would also slice up some strawberries, guava, pineapple, and papaya. The phone rings; someone downstairs wants to see us. We hurry to put on some clothes, all the meanwhile wondering who it could be. When we open the door, we find it is a committee from the church down the street, Nuestra Senora de Luz y Fortuna. They are here to inform us that in a vision, one of their church members, Senora Ana Maria Diaz Ignacio de Vivar, saw The Blessed Virgin appear in our apartment, flanked by St. Peter and St. Justina. They have brought a Filipino priest, Father Ray Evangelista, to await the Blessed Virgin’s appearance. They hope that she will have an important message for them, in particular what to do about the property deed for their church, which they recently discovered was forged and that they will have to vacate the premises in two weeks. Father Ray is not your typical priest; he wears a loud Hawaiian shirt and blue jeans, and has a fondness for Neil Diamond. We are not sure what to do with these strangers (mostly short, middle-aged women with flower-print scarves wrapped around their hair), but we invite them in for a glass of guava juice before we send them on their way. We promise to notify them in case of any appearances by the Blessed Virgin, or any other spiritual figures. Father Ray leaves his card, which mysteriously has an illustration of Maitreya on the back. A few days later, we are watching TV and we recognize him playing the main character in “Laughing Dragon”, a cult-classic Kung Fu film.