For Francesca Beard. To be read out loud:


Terrified. Angry that I am terrified to find myself back in this space, place, hiding and curled up in bed. Yes, it’s night. Yes, bed is the correct place for a being to be in, but for the last six months, it has been a place offering measly refuge against the monsters of my world. For the record, I’ve moved it to three different places in this small room, using that dog-like motion of furiously scratching the ground beneath my feet in order to mark myself into the space.

An anchor and a ship. If I cannot sleep in safety, how will I travel well?

Two hot water bottles, their unsheathed rubber selves (sex!) taking up their positions in the areas between my ass (Oh, sex, again!) and my knees and placed before the hollow of my chest. My spindly limbs do not take precedence in the placing of these items. There is always the danger that they will explode and that I will be scarred forever by the burning wetness (sex), but I take my chances.

I have not let myself take precedence. I am here. I have placed myself here, suspended and sloshing about in a white-sheeted limbo of whirling emotion. I want limbs in love-filled sex.

This is what happened, again. I stepped out of my shoes for a moment. I let that moment run on, and that is how I am here. I stretched too far towards a person. A whole, terrifying, other person with their strange personal loves that I hold, irrationally, as a violence against me.

I have somehow chosen to see only my skinny, lumpy, short, shorn self tonight. I miss my long blanket of hair. I had it cut right off so that I wouldn’t look like every other oriental girl out there. I wanted people to openly look at my open face, with all its particularities and somehow, somehow, that would show them everything about the shades of my soul. That would mean that I wouldn’t have to explain myself all over again to anyone ever again.  Yes, I am that tired. Yes, I need that sleep.

I am not stupid enough to pretend that I’m not testing you: Look at me, look at me, see me and then see if you love me and if you don’t, why the hell not?

I am that idiot. I am that monster under the sheets, on the bed, on the ship of fools, with you and everyone else, I imagine. All aboard! (sex?)

But I find that I am sailing in by the light of the moon in the company of owls, pussycats, and runaway sugar-tongs. I am listening out for the plaintive tune of lost love travelling through the dark, fairytale woods magically always close by.

I think I’ve lost my anchor. I think I never had one. What I think of though, is this: Over thirty years ago, I squat on cold tiles on a hot afternoon on the Equator, somewhere between being inside and out, just back from the beach, the whine of the nearby jungle a steadying hum. I am three, staring down, open-mouthed and frowning at the hermit crabs in my cheap plastic bucket. My wet, happy, sausage dog salty and sniffing.

Now, I think of Steinbeck and of the stars and of the sea:

‘And the stars down so close, and sadness and pleasure so close together, really the same thing… The stars are close and dear, and everything’s holy – everything, even me.’


My mind floods with the love I have for great and little beasties and deep sea submersibles. I freely admit that I fear butterflies and coral. They make me think of easily attackable, exposed internal organs and dusty DEATH. I embrace the sentimentality of my sloshings about. I mangle the metaphors of this, my first language, yes! I know I’ve written about feeeeelings and lost loves, of hiding in my bed, a grown woman, I!, my identity crisis and my insane nostalgia for things that don’t exist.

I want to be a lighthouse.

I would fall in love with me.


Copyright Vera Chok Oct 2012

Thanks to Stacy Makishi and the Stacy Makishis of DIY9 2012.

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