Chloe Chou is the 2022-23 Daly City Youth Poet Laureate and the 2022-23 South San Francisco Youth Poet-in-Residence. A South City resident, she is currently a freshman at Westmoor High School in Daly City. Her passions are coding and writing. In her free time, she likes to make mixtapes! In 2020, she published a book called The Phaeton Complex, which is available on Amazon and in the Peninsula Library System.
Poems on Belonging
A PORTRAIT OF MOTHERLAND
Sometimes I can almost feel Thanaka against my skin. I can almost feel warm rainfall, tangerine flesh Dipping under fingers. Bare feet kicking at soft, Breathing soil and crawling roots under quagmire. I can almost feel fresh ginseng in my throat, Like I’m spitting out the syllables of it. Words made of spilled ink fly off the page like cicadas, Heavy pockets, burning with moth-light. There’s mohinga Heavy on my tongue, incense that comes with a prayer and it Whittles itself into something bronze & beautiful. Something like unpaved roads, the creased pages of worn piano sheets It’s in the folds of longyi, sweeping against ankles and dirt. I can almost feel the movements of it, dancing and patient, Like the quiet determination of the Burmese python dashing into the glowing sky, The clash of wind chimes and The smell of a moonlight symphony through generations. Myanmar, I can almost feel you.
LIFE AS IT WAS, LIFE AS IT IS
I grew up a few blocks away from the plaza This house with all of its neon pink walls, Smother them with cream paint And dance around the living room Like it’s home Because it is. Sunlight kissing my forehead when I sleep in too late The smell of wild dandelions on the front lawn, in the backyard Butterflies disappearing in the smear of green, only to reemerge when Wandering fingers wade through daisies and I’m Swallowing mouthfuls of the blue, blue sky The taste of it sweet on my tongue, forbidden but never muted Shirt clinging to warm skin, chalk on sidewalk, The dust of it on palms and fingers Count the days on glossy calendar pages, and Growing up, don’t have to stand on my toes to see my reflection in the mirror That’s when I used to run home in the dark, in the rain Find comfort in old movies after tests failed, but stronger, faster, getting a little better every day Failing sometimes, Falling too, bruises like berries exploding under skin But we rub them away with the promise of tomorrow and we try again. We try every day. And now, the paint is chipping in this house, the pink is showing by the stairway, I’m moving and I’ve got to keep growing up now, a fifteen minute drive away from the plaza, Life as it was. Of course, there’s always life as it is.
Copyright © 2022 by Chloe Chou. Used with permission of the author.