Tokyo, My Love
Some scenery, then: a sleeping city by the ocean, streetlights and foghorns, a wisp of fog curling down the hills (in fact cigar smoke, blown by a production assistant just off camera). Unbeknownst to the citizens, a group of lit windows in one of the tall towers, busy with buzzers and maps, people shouting in Japanese: the command post. The tiny princesses are kidnapped. The missiles are racing into place.
I am the thing that happens next.
I feel myself evolving. You of all cities, Tokyo—you must know what this feels like, the little fishing village somewhere near your heart, the layers of houses and shopping and industry accreting, century by century, to form your black pearl. . . . You are not what you were. You are not what you will be.
The rockets are gathering in the suburbs, and I am changing.
To go from one body to the next, to watch your wings develop out of nowhere, beautiful, spotted wings, to feel the many segments of your abdomen contract and swell, swallowing the hundred tiny legs—too many of them!—and then one morning the new strong legs under you, holding you up. I am beautiful. Your tanks can’t stop me.
I know: Two men with mustaches have the princesses locked in a cage somewhere in the city, two near-Americans in business suits, etcetera. The princesses will be fine in the end. They will sing to me again, and I will go back to my island.
But all that is later. All that is plot. This is the moment that I love, this right now: the city sleeping, waiting, my body evolving, everything about to happen and the calm before. I can feel the city, there in the dark, waiting. I can feel how much you want me, Tokyo. Without me, without the thing that is about to happen, there’s no escape from the chain of days, turning clothes into laundry and then washing the laundry, folding the clothes, stacking them away. Who could stand it? Who could love a life like that? Admit it: You know what I’m talking about. The thing inside you that wants a hurricane, a fire a flood, that wants to hear the beat of giant spotted wings, my wings, bearing down on the city, the jets of flame spewing from my mouth and the helpless tiny planes as I bat them to the ground. You want to see the tanks roll into the street, the long sentence of Japanese that translates somehow into the single word: “Fire!” Admit it: That’s what you’re doing here, isn’t it? some tiny homeopathic dose of the hurricane you want, so that you don’t choke on your own boredom. You want tanks and burning buildings, railcars flying, rocketry and gasoline, the prehistoric scream—out of my lungs, Tokyo—that will burst every ear that hears it.
This is my moment, the moment before. These are my beautiful wings, unfurling. You wait, unsleeping. You wait for me. I am the thing that happens next—to you, Tokyo. Tokyo my love. To you.
Copyright © 2001 by Kevin Canty. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.