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Hot Desk Extract: irritated at: the couple, a closed door

As part of the Wheeler Centre’s Hot Desk Fellowship programme, Wen-Juenn Lee worked on a collection of poems for her manuscript something coiled, then flickering. The excerpt below forms part of the collection, which explores her relationship with distance, desire, and God.

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In my dreams, there is a couple & a closed door.
I’m saying to the door, don’t you know that I’m
grieving? The couple & I, the couple laughing & I
the couple wishing it was tomorrow already.

My father saying, ‘If I had known that I was loved,
I wonder what I would have done,’ love as something
to arm yourself with, why my friends won’t look at me
why I cook your dinner in my dreams.

There is holiness in distance, as if our faith & desire is
deeply painful, as if the only way to love is through a
gap & a veil with a hole where the eye should be.
I cannot help but feel like my mourning is another test

of which I am passing, can you see my tears
they are a gift. The tears of saints as something
dazzling, this is why everyone remembers the shortest line
in the Bible: ‘Jesus wept.’ I am a crybaby, a big baby

I could mourn professionally if you need me.
The tragedy of the couple lies somewhere in the river
where the fish begin their stories & I watch rocks
turn to sand. I mimic this when I gurgle, when I

think of you, surrounded by all that water. Sometimes
you are kneeling & that image hurts the most.
I just miss you, Vita Sackville-West wrote, in a simple
human way. Let this be a sign.

Photo: Wen-Juenn Lee

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