You Are Who You Love, Not Who Loves You
How do you explain this? It wasn’t
always bad. See, there were the summer
afternoons when he played guitar and
sang off-key. When he kissed chocolate
ice cream off the tip of your nose and
loved you anyway. When he brought you
flowers and said he’d wilt without you.
The thing is, you learned to dissociate.
There was the boy who slow danced with you
in the middle of town, and there was the boy
who touched you and left his fingers behind.
The boy who pressed secrets to you across
tangled phone lines, and the boy who called
you a slut cunt bitch for missing a text.
One boy hurt you.
The other healed you. Easy.
It took you months to unlearn the flinch.
That the stranger who hauled you across
the floor and turned your skin into stripes
of amethysts wasn’t a stranger.
That there was really only one boy
and you couldn’t slam the door shut on
his darkness but welcome his light.
That he couldn’t call you whore one day
and baby the next. That you couldn’t
keep looking through the boy pinning your
arms down and seeing someone else.
That you couldn’t keep thinking you would
rather be broken with him than fine
with anybody else.
The Other Woman
Nine years after the fact I still
cannot look Father in the eye
without picturing him with her
ankles crossed around his neck.
I never even knew her name.
only the scent of crushed flowers
rising like smoke from my father’s
coat, a perfumed note of warning.
Only the fire engine red
ringing his shirt collars and how
I came home to see my mother’s
lipsticks broken, buried in trash.
Only the grim ghost haunting the
swollen ocean of space between
my mother’s fevered fury and
my father’s spent silence.
I wonder if she knew I cried.
If she’d known her matchstick fingers
against his skin would burn this bright.
If she had planned to start this war.
Some nights I go to the bar and
make a game out of counting rings.
Some nights I smile extra hard then
leave before their owners crack.
Ang Shuang is a law student living in Singapore. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming on Berlin-artparasites, Eunoia Review, The Rising Phoenix Review and Words Dance Magazine.