COUNTING IN CHINESE / Lynda Hull Past midnight, September, and the moon dangles mottled like a party lantern about to erupt in smoke. The first leaves in the gutter eddy, devilled by this wind that's travelled years, whole latitudes, to find me here believing I smell the fragrance of mock orange. For weeks sometimes, I can go without thinking of you. Crumpled movie handbills lift then skitter across the pavement. They advertise the one an underworld of makeshift market stalls I've just seen--Drunken Angel--Kurosawa's early film of occupied Japan, the Tokyo slums and shacks where Matsu, the consumptive gangster, dances in a zoot suit to a nightclub's swing band. The singer mimes a parody of Cab Calloway in Japanese. And later, as Matsu leans coughing in a dance-hall girl's rented room, her painted cardboard puppet etches shadows on the wall that predict his rival's swift razor and the death scene's slow unfurling, how he falls endlessly it seems through a set of doors into a heaven of laundry: sheets on the line, the obis and kimonos stirring with his passage. And all of this equals a stark arithmetic of choices, his fate the final sum. Why must it
The Missouri Review – University of Missouri
Published: Oct 5, 1987
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