Poems by Amanda Chong

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Writing poems on her lunch breaks, Amanda Chong is interested in explore themes of gender and power in both her poetry and academic writing.

By Amanda Chong

“She’s past her days of being called xiao mei. Kopi uncles no longer clink their spoons, clamouring to make her afternoon teh.”

Office Lady

She’s past her days of being called xiao mei.

Kopi uncles no longer clink their spoons,

clamouring to make her afternoon teh.

For years, she batted away suitors’ swoons,

now she barely remembers how to flirt.

Her breasts are descending further than

the hemline of her G2000 skirt.

How will she ever shack up with a man?

her mother clucks. She waited far too long.

Spent her twenties leaning in the boardroom,

when women are like biscuits, will lao hong.

Assailed by visions of a cobwebbed womb,

she winks back at the beng ogling her legs.

Each month she counts down her viable eggs.


47th floor. Beneath us, trees are tessellating into space,

greenhouses, two metal molluscs moored

from orbit. Your mouth at my neck. The city sipping

at stars. I last loved a girl at 23, and it scared me

to know my whole universe slept soundly

in a single room. I think of the men who consumed me

with the wide-mouthed hunger of galaxies, rattling me

through layers of unfamiliar gravity in a shallow box.

A warning: I am a number divisible only by one and

itself. Did you know cicadas emerge from underground

cocoons every 3, 13 or 17 years – their erratic breeding

cycles evolved to catch predators by surprise? We will

never find synchrony in flight. But, look, there is tonight,

and both of us spiralling cleanly on our own axes,

at the peak before the precipice of decline. Later,

I will feel the weight of you pinning me down,

your hands gripping my wrists till they pale

like young moons. I am 29 and too old to wax and

wane in regret. We wake to switchblades of sunlight

serrating the floor. I spin to you with bare feet.

Amanda Chong is a Singaporean lawyer trained at Cambridge and Harvard. Her first collection, Professions (2016), was shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize 2018. Her poetry has been included in the Cambridge International GCSE syllabus, and appeared in Monocle.

Photo credits: Daryl Qilin Yam and Sindhura Kalidas

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