Child of the Enemy, and: Intermurals, and: Whitsunday, and: Whitsunday, and: "Who Lit This Flame in Us?", and: "If I Don't Meet You in This Life, Let Me Feel the Lack."
- The Missouri Review
- University of Missouri
- Volume 23, Number 2, 2000
- pp. 25-36
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CHILD OF THE ENEMYIAmy Quart Barry I've seen thousands of Amerasians, and I have two Amerasian [children] of my own. Amerasians are wUlful and stubborn. They have serious identity problems. They have no discipline. Down the street at the Floating Hotel you'U find Amerasian prostitutes plying their mothers' trade. I think there's a racial thing here, something genetic. —a former American soldier, as quoted in Vietnamerica i. night terror It started when I was four. Vacation. Door County, Wisconsin. The alewives rippling on the rocks Uke a flock of birds, the sudden knowledge growing like a toll. Then I couldn't have articulated it, but I knew. It wasn't the beached fish that frightened me. It was the ones that got away, far away under the wreck of water. The ones that survived by fleeing, kin left rotting on the shore. ii. twenty years later Someone who had been there (and now incidentally is serving a natural life sentence) told you it wasn't all about killing. Don't ever believe you weren't conceived in love. You take his word for it like an miago splitting the shell, each wet wing a voice purged and steeling. The Missouri Review · 25 Ui. child of the enemy a. I was born with a twelfth hole. Instantly the floating world carved its shame on the dark meat of my face. A love child, child of perfidy, allegiance split like a door. I was born a traitor Ui the month of Cancer, the white phosphorus pungent, knowing. b. 1973. The rice winnows out like shrapnel. Before it's over there are fifty thousand new hostilities, each birthed face mimical as our fathers stealing home. Think of the places women dilate. Beds. Barns. Saigon's streets. No good Samaritan comes forward and only the moon like a platoon treacherously approaching, its extended hand like a speculum, the better to illuminate, disgrace. d. Or more importantly the places women leave. An unsuspecting caretaker. The bacterial streets. Or perhaps the unspeakable pitch Ulto burlap and water. A guU off the South China Sea where another sulking form is anyone's guess. e. That time Tet fell Ui the year of the snake. As in reptilian. As in no turning back. As in when I became a child of containment. As m how like a monetary policy I was loosed to an existence feral as a raised bayonet. As Ui what the serpent might say: knowledge for knowledge's sake is both industrial and complex. 26 · The Missouri Review Amy Quan Barry f. At birth I was swaddled in a blanket. Pink wool. Threadbare. Like everything else moth-eaten. Man-made. SBefore the last vertical bird lifted like a gurney out of April and twenty years clotted to a tumor brilliant as a stuck fish and the dreams began in which you saw yourself as the killer of trees, before the army finally said it was something in the water and orange came to be the cloak of mourning, tell me soldier: who taught you to love like a man, you with nowhere to go but tacitly free? iv. the exiled 7 liked it in South Vietnam. —Lieutenant William Calley Later when the black and white photos came in the rice sinking in its makeshift grave at the right of the picture three children wound about their mother like meat on a spit one eye rolling loose amazed in the dead silence of the frame the freshly dead posed hastily each wound breaking open like a smile each eye cocked as if winking under the black hood of hair the stalked rice a backdrop nobody wanted to write the story after all no american in his right mind would rise to this black mission 109 civilians dead Amy Quan Barry The Missouri Review · 27 gunned down m the eye of the hunt it was never about them the rice lush in ways their children could never be wound so tightly to old wounds the Chinese the french now this blue-eyed christ seated at the right of the throne coming to save them from a black plague that never left so many dead...