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A Languishing Garden


Chia-Lun Chang

Art by Christina Quarles


—How do you like New York so far?

—It’s great. I really enjoy the environments.

—Oh, where particular?

—I wake up in the morning and trot to the park. Runners show up in the dawn, and they usually wear grey clothes, so they mingle with the daybreak. I walk toward the hill and drink my apple cider. Sometimes I am attracted by the site of old buildings, some of them looked like they burned down decades ago, some of them are covered by vines. I barely see the inside.

—What are you doing there?

—I just stare at them because they are old and might collapse. I walk home before people appear and the city becomes crowded.

—You like Central Park?

—No, I was talking about Fort Greene Park.

—I don’t know where it is. What else? Tell me more about New York.

—Well, sometimes when I go home, people blast music and just drink in the street. They invite me to join them. I never do. I just look at them from my window and smoke. They always help me when I carry heavy groceries.

— That sounds terrible. Tell me something about restaurants and coffee shops.

—I cook. I don’t really eat out.

—Tell me about those cool bars.

—I love 1-dollar happy hour beers. They’re so cheap and disgusting so my friends and I can stay at the bar for a couple hours.

—Eww. Tell me about celebrities.

—I haven’t met any in my neighborhood.


—Tell me about local artists.

—I think the guy who lives next door is a painter. He gave me one of his paintings. It’s a circle of brown, green and pink bushes around a lake. I hang it in my bathroom and when I need to muse, I look at the lake.

—Does he own a gallery or something?

—No, he works for Radio Shack.

—Is that a radio station? He broadcasts his exhibitions?

—No, it’s an electronics retail store. He is a midnight shift cashier. He smokes pot in his apartment and he invites me to smoke with him. Sometimes, he asks me for money.

— That’s not what I thought about New York. I wanna go party! Go to fancy restaurants, wear my Gucci shades and hang out with Woody Allen.

—Oh, I don’t really know about that bar. I heard Woody Allen plays there and it’s expensive to get in.

—What do you mean you are not familiar with the city? What’s wrong with Manhattan?

—It’s nothing wrong with Manhattan at all. I truly enjoy it when I go. But I live in Brooklyn.

—What’s Brooklyn? It’s New York City! You don’t sound like a New Yorker at all.

—I know and I’m fine with that. Can I just sit on the bench before the sunset, please? Can I sit alone in a languishing garden?

—No. Come to the city and party with me! We are going to be so famous and have lots of fun. The world is watching us. Stand up.

—Why do you care so much? I don’t even care. Can you please walk away?

—No. You have no right to sit here. Listen! Those buildings you stared at will be demolished. These bars you went to, these people who you hung out with will be kicked out of town, because Manhattan style fame is coming to Brooklyn. Everyone, sing and kneel down.


—This is my petty feeling

    when they say
    Taiwanese are Chinese
    Taiwanese are like Chinese
there is no difference between us
    we are the same
    Taiwanese were Chinese ethnic anyway
    we are just cows