Christine Hou

A Promise

I can make myself look good for you
Even as I undergo crisis
I can remove my breasts and place them on a shelf
For me and you to share
I can scoop holes out of this melon
I can make such beautiful holes
Using the ugliest of thorns
I can use a telescope
to gaze into the boggy
Insides of my neighbors’ bodies
In summer I swim breaststroke across
A manmade pond
And start to believe in the presence
Of something bigger and holier
I take the afternoon off to do drugs
With my doctor
I step into a castle
I step into into a lake
I step into a lemon tree
And entangle myself in its branches
I rush skyward
I am rushing skyward to build a permanent home
In the sky for you and me
I want to build a shelter
But I am exhausted from being touched
By the wind and the rain
Blinded by the glittering rocks and leaves
Of the holy forest
Dizzied by the variations in altitude
I make a promise to myself to devote
The rest of my life to finding hiding places
For the ones I love
My roots run ragged and free
They are not anchored to the ground
Oh cup of light
I am virtually unsinkable

Christine Shan Shan Hou is a poet and artist of Hakka Chinese descent. Their publications include The Joy and Terror are Both in the Swallowing (After Hours Editions 2021), Community Garden for Lonely Girls (Gramma Poetry 2017), and “I'm Sunlight” (The Song Cave 2016).