Sumptuous specimen who chops fire-
wood, please let me be the woman
I’m supposed to be, the wife who gives
birth at 27 and 29, who stays true,
faithful, fair. Please leave me –
go and know I’ll never marry you.

But is it marriage you
want? Or are you only hunting fire?
Fire burns out. And between me
and you, I could never be a woman
who loves in spite of everything. True,
I’m a romantic, but he gives

me affection you can’t afford. He gives
me reason to love him; you
give me insomnia. For true
romance, our chemistry’s fire
is poor substitute. That woman,
his sister, may be onto me,

but he won’t see through me
as long as I’m in his arms. Love gives
him long-sightedness. My woman
friend asks if I want to date you
and I laugh. You don’t date fire,
you are consumed by it. True

love I don’t believe in; true
transactions never fail me.
Maybe in my next life, fire
will have a place. Heat gives
life but it can also burn you.
Mother said, “Woman-

hood means sacrifice.” But a woman
today can have it all. True
or false? If I fuck you,
will I tell him? Secrets to me
are snowflakes on tongues. No one gives
us away, no one will fire

me. Fan our fire, I’ll be your woman
Until he gives me a rock. Your true
blue eyes pull me into you.


Teh Su Ching

(picture: detail of the Jelly Fishes thank at Singapore Acquarium, Sentosa Island, courtesy Diana Marrone)

– – –

Slow Words asked Olivia Lee to choose a poet of her country (and coming from her generation) to form our Weekly poem section to be published together with her interview. Teh Su Ching is a writer, screenwriter, journalist and actor: she writes poetry only for private purposes. She did not start sharing her poems on a public platform until April this year, when a group of Singaporean writers on Facebook organised “Singapore Poetry Writing Month” (SingPoWriMo).

Su Ching’s work in theatre and film has been published, performed, and screened in New York, New Haven, Guam, Moscow, London, Glasgow, Shanghai, Tokyo, Valsele, Italy, and Singapore. She graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts Asia (Singapore) with a Master of Fine Arts in Dramatic Writing. Her short film Ash, which she wrote while a graduate student, screened at numerous international film festivals, including the Telluride Film Festival, Glasgow Film Festival,  and the Shnit Festival for Short Films. She lives in Shanghai and performs with its oldest improvisational comedy troupe, Zmack, in English and Chinese.


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