I knew from the beginning that Mariko was haunted, but there was nothing I could do about it. My only choice was to love her, and until the very end.
I have five photographs left of Mariko. I burned all the rest. These five photos capture the mercurial quintessence of Mariko, her Mariko-ness. They were taken at a photo shoot when she was nineteen. All of the photos are black and white close-ups of Mariko’s face. The lighting is stark and dramatic, with gradations of tone ranging from luminescent to ashen.
I burned all other photos of Mariko because I didn’t want there to be too much of her. Didn’t want to get lost in a sprawling inventory of Mariko, when those five photos contained the essentials of Mariko, the staggered verisimilitudes, and did so in a compressed manner. Not only by the fact that the photos were only five in number, but they were also small, each one about 3 x 5. I thought of those five photos as producing haiku cinema, starring Mariko in a house of mirrors.
She is all there, a jigsaw panoply, a series of jazz cadenzas. Upward eyerolling petition for mercy, for beatific interference; unflinching gaze lasering straightahead like a death ray; desultory, dreamlike, bewitching, contemptuous, feral. Eyes crowded with contempt, harboring equal parts suicide and murder.
In none of the photos is she smiling. Her mouth is severe, solemn, stoical, inveterate. Her lips are pursed, an airless church. It is a mouth that you can easily imagine drawing blood from your lip, or lips from your mouth, or chewing off a finger in a fit of desire. Mariko used to threaten to bite off the tip of my pinky in an act of furious love, as a tribute to fleshy devotion. She never did this. But I always held out hope, mingled with the right amount of fear, that one day I’d see the severed tip of my pinky, lodged like a pulpy pellet, between Mariko’s teeth.