More poems and contributor notes in Chinese feature



Cyril Wong

Cyril Wong

The Object Of Loss

My toenails are stunned bald again.
I cradle a mess of milky crescents

in my palm, then empty it out the window,
wondering where the wind would

take them. Fallen strands of my hair
stand out against the white of the floor,

the morning I thought my sideburns
had grown too long. A new tooth

burrowed out of a corner of my mouth,
which I later had removed.

The friendly dentist returned it to me
in a plastic cachet I kept in my wallet

and forgot all about it, not knowing
what to do with what was once

a part of me. Later, the anesthetic
wore off, and like any loss I was made

to bear — that long wait for the ache
to end. The year I fell in love with you

was the same year your mother died.
We sat in the first pew watching the priest

pray for her soul, while I prayed too
that I would always make you happy.

I imagine that when we die, the body
spirals like a top in slow motion,

disintegrating into uncountable atoms
that fly out from the momentum

in every possible direction, lodged
back into the earth or scattered wildly

across pages of air, other people left
to wonder where the wind will take them.


“Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up
and choked it, and it yielded no crop.” — Matthew 13:7

Blame the self, blame you — few do both.

You are the room I flee with the door flying shut behind me. If I come back, it is from exhaustion, not regret.

Inevitable how my mother lost me in the middle of a sentence about a happy life, amidst 'marriage' and 'the Christian faith'.

Beware the taxi-driver with his color-printed pamphlets about God and The Way. Two miracles, he claimed, in a life without miracles, when luck visits the unlucky at any time, and eventually.

Beware the evangelist whose mind is buried like a bookmark between the pages.

The mind must be an interminable rush of clouds, the occasional good weather.

Walls are you. Any loss of light is also you.

Takes time to accept this is how I find you. Only this or inside a house on fire do you regain my full attention.

Nothing stopped Mother Teresa, not a broken collarbone, not two heart attacks.

Isn't it like you to prefer the gift not given with great emotion, but with great discomfort — the act of kindness no kindness to us.

Happy the atheist that buys the poor man a meal, no thought of your kingdom in her head.

Let's return to that chair, the dark room encircling it like a suspicious dog, your whip drawing my body to its reaches, followed by a slow, nearly tender settling of the self, that moment when the body rediscovers sensation — so this is why I let you do this, this is why you did not heed my cry and stop...

Let's talk about endings. Some I ask for, some you inflict upon me. (Not some. Most.)

You arrived stomping upon the void's wide roof, proclaiming ownership, spinning out the world on the loom of your laws, laws you had in you all along without question.

When did you first perceive the need for your pale shadows, children born thirsty for your light?

Is the cliché then true, that the point of conflict was to charge the light with meaning — not just hope, but also reward?

Or is the mystery not a mystery after all, that you arrived without reason, like a seed with its singular purpose — purest want — needing us to fail and keep failing in the light of your original success?

I kneel to respect you, the you in the altar, the sculptural cross, the you that hangs in the air for as long as incense can hold a church in its atmosphere.

The stories contradict not just each other (Jesus healed two blind men after Jericho, according to Matthew; Mark claims it was only one), but also themselves (“Not be judge, lest you be judged,” as opposed to “ , , , judge the twelve tribes of Israel,” in Matthew's account).

I enter your house, a spy committing the sign with a finger kissed by water.

Already, altar boys send a frisson down a thigh; clenched eyes upon the brink of something spiritual, my head bobbing under the cloak (“hard and rough” as Simone Weil described of the test for what is real).

My throat is lined with weeds. If it sounds like I am choking, you are wrong.

I am back in a room that has given up its light. The chair is you. And I am also you. At last, I admit this.

This also means you are a fool and full of holes.

Admit this is not going anywhere. Admit you never meant for any of us to triumph.

I Didn't Expect To Write About Sex

Did you know that after I came, I imagined my pelvis had emptied out
into a dark cave you could crawl into, lay yourself down and fill my body
with your sleep? This isn't really about sex, is it? Yet I could write
about your tongue, how cleverly you rotated it like a key to slip
open every lock of resistance under my skin, muscles loosening
like a hundred doors creeping open across the conservative,
suburban town of this flesh, desire stepping into the open like Meryl
Streep in that film with Clint Eastwood, a wind calling forth the stiff body
from under her dress so wholeheartedly how could she not help but
undress, welcome it in. I could also write about your hands, tenacious
dogs of your fingertips unearthing pleasure from every pore, jumpstarting
nipples with the flick of your nails, each time you pushed in deeper
from behind. I must not forget to write how much I love you when you
warn me not to swallow; I love how I take you anyway into my mouth
like tugging a recalcitrant child back into the house, even though he
realizes deep inside himself that he would always long for home;
I love how you taste, what was inside of you now inside of me, sliding down
my throat like the sweetest secret. I could write about how when you fell
off the peak of your mounting hunger, your hands stayed anchored
upon my nape, as if to keep from drowning, as if to let me know,
“Even when I'm this far gone, I'd want you here. I'd want you with me.”