Chim Sher Ting

一 (n.): One.

The first-born, 
the first of its kind,

or the eye of a stitch 
stretching across the sides, 

a body prostrate beneath a desert sky, 
begging for a wrist of light. 

I languish beneath Warburton’s night-sky,
untouched by light,

learning how an expanse is another space 
a body has shunned,

the body made to abandon/ 
its space/ a silence

my hesitation has come to fill, 
words suspended
    mid-draft,

before gliding over 
the fricatives of a name. 

When I was 8, in a class 
that looked nothing like me,

I spoke in hushed tones to sand 
down the mountains of phonemes. 

Before 慧田 became Winnie and
丽英 became Lily, 

there was night, and a body that sought 
white and christened it 

a luminous flux.   

I came to learn that our names were all expanse, 
2717 miles and the length of an umbilical cord. 

When I was 10, my teacher told me to
stop writing my name in alien letters 

no one could understand. I didn’t tell him

I once looked through each character 
and saw the river home. 

Yet, each breath of vowels 
has taken me further from headwaters, 

when I turned my back and headed 
out to sea. 

When I was 15, I bleached the womb
that had no memory of me. 

To become a body 
unmoored and longing, 

To become a promise made 
in a language I had barely begun to speak. 

These days, I still drive on Eagle Highway, 
stopping in the sand to call my old name 
to the moon.
 
The gibbous moon splits in half — 

I make a wish, and pull it 
till it snaps like charred bones. 

Originally from a sunny island in Southeast Asia, Chim Sher Ting is a Singaporean-Chinese currently residing in Australia. She is a 2021 Writeability Fellow with Writers Victoria and a 2021 Pushcart and Best of The Net nominee with work published/forthcoming in Rust+Moth, Chestnut Review, Eunoia Review, Heavy Feather Review and Kissing Dynamite. She tweets at @sherttt and writes at sherting.carrd.co.
MORE POEMS
  • 15721
    Ernest O. Ògúnyẹmí