She was a provincial girl –
no not the kind of provincial girl you think
with jewels and queendom and kings
and what-have-you from the well-to-do manors and castles –
No, to see her, you have to look harder
between the bushes and the rattling shelters
made up of leftover dinners and broken dishes and lonely dreamers.
You see, she never gets anything better to do
than to lose herself in dreams and in you.
She came to your country purely by chance –
a chance many deem hard to come by and many envy with vice between their teeth.
She graduated from the top schools – top of her class
only to see her degrees burned to ashes when the winter comes
and she needs fire to kindle her wisdom.
She thought a bookshelf full of dead men – and sometimes living ones – will make her a better person;
but all she gets from the old texts is the reason to refute living.
And you ask her to let you hear she howl.
She, who talks about Nietzsche like a bad writer with great philosophies –
great in their emptiness and great in their follies.
She, who talks about Hemingway and the machismo and the masochism in his writing
while you stand there thinking, she uses those two words right in one sentence.
She, who is always the uninvited, the unloved, the unchosen, the betrayed –
in a way, you can say she eats so many leftover dinners that she slowly becomes one –
everybody sees the leftover dinners but nobody wants them.
And yet you ask her to howl.
Did you know she lost her voice a long time ago
on a desert far, far away?
Did you know the only reason she stays
is to find a reason to love life –
to love living enough to wake up another day,
to love the livings enough so she won’t despise herself,
to simply be so she won’t have to consider the question of “not to be.”
Did you know she choke herself awake
and in her tremulous death she finds the phantom of living so much more endurable.
Did you know in her world, there are only two types of people –
the ones who used her and the ones who abandoned her –
and she despises herself enough to love them all.
She doesn’t want to go to Heaven because she wants to fall
into the arms of the lost and the unchosen. After all, what does she have to lose
but this only shoe? Unlike Cinderella, she doesn’t want the other
because the universe only makes one of her.
You ask to hear her howl, monsieur, and let me tell you, don’t bother.
Her silence shakes the whole forest and her eyes burn the night ablaze with fever –
she is a dreamer and you only encounter once in a lifetime on a blue moon.
And when you see her again, perhaps later, perhaps soon,
Ask her to howl, and she will say unto you –
I forgive thee, for thine pains and sufferings;
live thine life on earth, and come unto me only in dreaming,
for thou know not the love of the ever-giving
and thou know not of the howling of the ever-loving.
And there you have it, the provincial girl
who had traveled across deserts and oceans
thinking she would howl for you, but she has fallen.
Seek her in the creek of the mountains,
hear her voice in the whispers of the sun,
and if you want to hear her howl,
seek it within you, because all along, her existence
has always been you.
If you liked this story and would like to help more writers like this publish their work, please consider supporting our writers and artists by becoming a member HERE.
Thanh Dinh graduated from the University of Toronto with a minor in English. She is the finalist of the DVAN publishing contest and her motto in life is: if no one dares to tell the story, she will be the one to tell it.