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I saw an ugly side of you tonight, 友達 (friend). A face I thought you’d keep a little more hidden. One I was shocked you put on so bold, out in the open. One that made me stop and realize why here — ravens, not crows. The careful, plotting methodical. Not the curious and mischievous. Not the jester of the North and West, but the rare spirit of the East. A disaster-tempered bird with black eyes who’ve seen so many murders, they have turned into stories told to one another silent in their tucked-wing sleep to the distant song of birds whose calls have come to sound like human screams.

My moment came in the shape of an overheard fight. It was one hundred percent unexpected and one hundred percent lost in translation. Enacted on a stage I could not see with players who I could not free-associate. Cultural regelia of the moment clamped my teeth, bit my tongue till it bled, and caged my heart against my chest. Both panic then and panic now, I cannot avoid. I shudder like a building quake to help. But help …what?

I have no clue what transpired. Only that words were exchanged without hardly a raise in tone. It was a scene of violence turned down and twisted under polyester covers. One brimming with expectation, roles and placement, shame and guilt. A hierarchy of meanings I have no means to read. I only saw the dominance-struggle of abuser to abused. But here, the whole space bent at the edges to accommodate it.

I felt a gaping lack of a conduit to the moment. I left knowing full well I could not defend what I do not understand. And to think otherwise would be painfully American of me.

Instead, I closed my door and closed my eyes. And in the darkness there, I saw the ghost of a samurai pass bloody before my eyes. I heard an echo like the decay of a call lost to mist and starlight:

“A hand is rarely raised not from lack of want, but lack of need. Fear already precedes me.”

This surprises me, for it is an ugliness my blood knows far too well. One generations before me spent enough time bowed down underneath. I think it is due time we come clean, look one another in the eye, and breathe. But first I need to find your eyes because they do not look like mine.

Hunting for the unknown in the dark just takes more time than I first thought. If you look at me first, I am sure to learn. My short term memory is a slough, but I remember what I want. A defence mechanism built up from my own childhood in a world made of violence-implied. I’ll find you eventually, if I try.

And I want you more than anything, 烏 (raven).
始めましょう. (Let’s begin.)

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