Writing poems on her lunch breaks, Amanda Chong is interested in explore themes of gender and power in both her poetry and academic writing.
“She’s past her days of being called xiao mei. Kopi uncles no longer clink their spoons, clamouring to make her afternoon teh.”
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