The Camphor Suitcase
(Published in Literal Latte, 2008)
In the recent Year of the Snake — I remember because it's my daughter's sign — the image of a maroon suitcase made of camphor wood began to follow me like a phantom. It became most vivid in the dusk as I drove home from work, when my mind was free from corporate politics and daily domestic troubles. Along the road from Newton to Wayland, the famous New England autumn painted my windshield with shifting hues of golden red, dark red, light yellow, bright yellow, eclipsing shades of green and other unnameable colors. For me, born in southwest China, New England’s icy five-month winter imposes an unjust imprisonment; spring is practically non-existent; summer plays the double role of benefactor and spoiler; only the brilliant and solemn autumn calms my soul. But it failed me that year.
I hadn’t set eyes on the camphor suitcase for 13 years. (>>read the complete essay here)