Poetry: Nicole Seah
Illustration: Angela Sun


Boy collects “small exotic things”

This is a warning sign. He tells me this

on our first date. The neon signs flicker

like eyelashes behind him. I do not have

the heart to tell him lemon chicken is a

white person thing. He tells me this, the yellow

of the light reflected in his eyes; my skin makes me

Look Quite Japanese he says, today

he speaks in capital letters because English

is not my language and I am Chinese.

He says he collects trinkets from All Over The World

yes, Including China. He informs me all about

my culture. How Is The Food? The dumplings here

are okay, I say. yi po makes them better, her fingers

cropping against dumpling skin, that meaty

dough. And the red of this restaurant

collects in the drain like the word ping collects

in my mouth. Stability. I learnt the words

for praise, body bowed above a table

I learnt the mouth shape for a white tiger

Because I was a baby girl in that year, I continue

to turn. And yi po told me she liked fish head

the best because it was the cheapest part

of the fish. We didn’t afford much and fish

head was our moon lit feast, popping out

the lagoons in the eyes, we say sorry, thank you

before we eat. Our prayer was to the money

we sung from, for the pink fists of child

crying in the smoke. Wow The Chinese Sure

Have A Lot Of History Did You Know?

He discards his fish head back into its history.

I lie and say no. Let him have his moment of glory.