ORIGIN STORY

by MARIANNE CHAN

 

1.     

Not Eve, but Eve’s Filipino half-sister, bad dancer, lute player, naked and fat, fermenting grains, painting veins with berries and clay, shooting shit with snake and tree beneath moonlight, while God, Eve, and even Adam make fires in caves, drawing pictures of buffalo and horses on walls, like a bunch wacko, square, hallucinating tunnel dwellers. 
 


2. 

“When you were born,” my mother tells me, “You resembled our statue of Buddha.” Not the thin icon, not the skeletal, ascetic Siddhartha Gautama, but Pu-Tai, the fat one seen in American Chinese restaurants, a symbol of abundance and generosity. She says: “You always drank too much soda. Your father gave you whatever you wanted, even if it wasn’t good for you. That is why you were happy. Hedonism is not natured, but nurtured.” As she finishes telling me this, she stretches her stout body along the loveseat in her newly bought suit. She burps after her snack of fried chicken. She asks me to rub her feet while she watches Jeopardy, and then, she offers to rub mine. 

 

3. 

Not Eve, but Eve’s serpent, imbibing fruit juices and writhing her leggy body on the branch of a tree. I always imagined that the serpent had the legs of a seductive woman in black nylons. Before God took her legs away as punishment. Perhaps she wanted her legs to go. She wanted to feel the earth, her origin, warm on her belly. Where are the legs now? Perhaps at the bottom of the ocean, there are a pair of ancient nylons clinging to the rigid core of the earth.

 

4. 

“When you were born,” my father tells me, “you looked just like I did.” He hands me a black-and-white picture of himself in a crib, weeping baby. How pleasurable it is, as a child, to instantly see the origin of yourself in some first being. The future is predestined. I see my eyes in his eyes, his crooked gait in my crooked gait. I look up at my father. I think: In a few years, I will be a fifty-year-old Chinese man with a black-and-white mustache. 

 

5.  

Not Eve, but eve. Before my father was my father’s father, a man who had twenty children with various women, who drank and smoke and did not wish to die. Before my mother was my mother’s mother, a woman who lost her legs, like the wonderful, wise serpent who initiated life and earthly joys. Eve. The day that comes before an important day. A name given after shame. My brother tells me that when I was born I had a mark on my head that resembled a tree, and it grew fruit until it disappeared. That’s a myth. The truth of the story: after us, there will be another, then another, then another.