Published on The Cauldron
Published on The Cauldron
Published in Made In Vietnam Zine Issue 01.
At the age of 22, I find myself waking up every morning with more questions instead of answers. My efforts to process these questions – chains of thoughts on selfhood and relationships – inspired me to create this project. I chose glass to be my main material because it is associated with reflection and fragility.
The first half of the project (Upbringing, Infatuation, Sexual Awakening and Possession) explores certain phases of life and their complexities; while the second half (Freedom, Courage, Vulnerability and Self-love) represents my attempts to “answer” those “questions.” Through this series of photographs, I want to invite multiple readings on a personal experience and suggest different sides of one human characteristic.
They tell you I’m still alive?
I belonged to another rhythm before. Water swayed
under my razor-edged fins, my six-hundred-kilogram body
like a baby blue feather. My jaws: two rows of frozen
flowers. Endless starvation in pitch black:
a delight. I digested plenty, darling, to survive in that bottomless
playground. Lean snakes, glossy dolphins, even stiff turtles.
Life motto: never knock on waves & trust only
blood calls. Some nights, I pondered the unlaughable
of hide and seek.
Now, darling, look at me.
They adore my teeth yet take away the ripping sound
of my throat. Formaldehyde chokes me
tears-dried, and they coo at my
quiescene. My body taut,
soaked in ultraviolet.
This is the beauty of letting go, they say, sticky hands locking the vitrine,
slick praises through transparency
for a creature who obeys.
Tune them out, darling. This half-living will replicate itself like goddamn cancer cells.
Get tipsy off your own blood. Choke on the sea for yourself.
1. Spelling 103:
Been teaching Vietnamese how to pronouce things right
(I am running away, but my limbs are underwater.)
Got married to a pretty white-hyped Vietnamese woman
“False flag of unity”
Uống nước rồi thì có nợ nước không?*
“Chúng mày muốn nó cút, hay có 1 anh dạy tiếng Anh hay??”**
(I took the knife because they told me I look better crippled.)
“Eat a bag of dicks you bunch of dirty / fucking Communists” *inserts Trump photo*
2. Reading 201: The use of quotation marks
3. Math 101:
Published in The Cauldron (2018)
Let me write about you. Let me tell you about the shift of light when we were together, even though your shadow and mine weren’t of the same shade.
I think when we talk about her, we didn’t talk about you. You probably desired to get away with yourself by being, as you said, “in love.” It’s reasonable. I, too, have those times when the easiest place to duck my head into is a thornless cactus. After all, we’re not gonna stand in the sun forever, right?
I didn’t talk about him, but if I did it would just be about me. I don’t want to be that me though, the me who’s so stuck inside herself she doesn’t know what love feels like outside her body. When you said “Don’t die, I like you,” that’s the best thing said at the rightest time because it wasn’t a love confession. I can’t even feel my own limbs, let alone holding yours. So, I sent you a song and let it swallow the distance.
Now that I do tell you about him. He, that, it’s. Well, me. Like, I don’t even know where he’s standing, let alone how he looks under the sun you know? I barely made out his outlines, yet already wrote down love letters never sent. It’s stupid. I wonder if you will laugh at me. But please do, as now I am free from those letters and you can read them as a writer, not a friend.
I took a long walk with her one afternoon for groceries shopping. There’s no stuck-inside-the-throat, nothing good to write you about. We were just two airflows chasing different rhythms. I would have saved that long walk for you if I could. I wonder what you would have chased after. How long have you been standing in the sun?
I can’t talk about him now without the context of her. Like they’re a deal. Or whatever. They think WE’re a deal. They can’t tell that we’re two ice trays in a freezer. Who will get filled up first, you think?
I will still call this a love letter. I mean, can’t humans write love letters to people they’re not romantically involved with? What is love, anyway? I doubt the thing between him and her is love. You might not even sure what you felt for her is love. And I’m sure as hell what I felt for him isn’t.
Let’s talk about that afternoon in the bamboo forest, how I wanted to be in in in the green light forever and you said I could be in a forest for so long because I am a writer. I am thankful we exist in the green light together. Even though nothing collides or breaks or falls or disappears, even though you are just you and I am still me.
I will now end my love letter, by saying the clichést thing ever at the end of all love letters, that I’ve indeed missed you, my other ice tray.