Chloe Chou

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.

Read Chloe’s ecopoem, “Earth“. She is also a contributor to the collaborative poems, “Breathe” and “The Many Voices Word Karaoke”.