Dead Girl

   My choice gets made: I’m shouldered backward for the processors to better gather around this young woman. The body of this young woman. One for each arm and one for each leg, and two to play appropriate music.
   At some point in time, this procession would have had a meaning. I feel like this clanging of metal and childlike beating of drum would once have been… sophisticated? My father might have known. These days I think we have most of our ceremonies form television.
  “Why are you doing this?”
  “Here,” he says, handing me another cigarette. We stand about the girl and make as if to smoke.
  “Do you want this?”
   I watch Zhou because he is struggling with some answer.
  “No,” I say. “Do you?” I want to see what she will say, but her marshmallow face is as pressed and closed as if she were dead. I draw on some smoke. “Hey?” I say. I squat.
  “Do you want this?”
  “Just leave us alone,” says Zhou. The drummer beats a tom-tom-tom sound. And repeats that. At points only he has decided upon, the cymballer hits his circles of metal together. On one of them, the four carriers heave the girl aloft. She goes up awkwardly and draining water. The fellows skip aside as best they can without wholly letting go.
  “Fucksake,” urges Zhou. “Get back in.”
   They line up more steadily and settle her on their shoulders.
   In attempting to step up the incline away from the water one man sinks a little and stalls the others. Cursing and pushing one another under their load, the four of them prance about the mud like a disturbed pony, scared by the clash of cymbals perhaps. No one can want this, least of these men. “Goddammit,” says Zhou. “Give her to me.”
   He shifts under the girl and the men settle her around his shoulders, pushing her clammy head up against his and wrapping her squashy arms around his neck. When they abruptly let go, her legs sail down almost to the ground. Zhou takes a sudden step backwards.
   She’s going to come apart at the middle.