Child

you turn your cold shoulder
and I, always anxious, fish-marked,
am condemned to swim, gasp in sin,
on the edge of water’s sword, sliced thin,
like the neck of the pool embraced by your
unfair spell. The way you catch everything within
your boundary, demanding attention whilst the lanterns
unravel. Like the flies, how many times I zipped near ears
lip-syncing my pains or fears or secret tears and just wished
to hear you tell me that            no matter what you are my child.

Well, one day I will learn that real love is more opaque.
Slippery thing, clothed in collisions, hooked with patience,
fished with persuasion and turbid reconciliations –

I will dream of how, when I was simply a mute bundle,
you would tout me in the wide hull of your wooden bicycle basket
and sail through those claustrophobic crowds that frightened you,
you would turn over the backs of leaves to show me the hot veins,
you would paint the walls with your tears when I skipped the gate –

I will dream of how, suspended from school, I took your throbbing hand
and thrust it into my chest and promised I would be able to take all the fury,
carry both our dark hearts into the brimming atlas. Amidst that deep silence that spun
out like thick linen from your incantations, of course, I still wished to hear my child. my child.
But I know the water is deep, and it is hard to speak. I will sit with you when it is hard to believe.

Ho Ren Chun is a Singaporean-born writer and future lawyer based in London. He has published with Ethos, Acumen, Footnotes and The Cambridge Pamphlet, in anthologies like A Luxury We cannot Afford (2014) and Poetry Moves (2020), and received the Cambridge Brewer Hall Poetry Prize (2017). Ren Chun was also the founder of the Cambridge University Poetry and Prose Society, the first university-wide literary society.

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