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Natalie Wee is a queer Peranakan community-builder and the author of Our Bodies & Other Fine Machines. She has been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology 2016 as well as the 2016 and 2017 Pushcart Prizes. Born in Singapore to Malaysian parents, she is currently a settler in Tkaronto (Toronto).

This poem was shortlisted for the 2018 Peach Gold in Poetry with guest judge Morgan Parker.

1 poem

by Natalie Wee

Bad Habit


What is it they say      about hands that feed      & that word made known
to us by      the shape of its entry      which is also      the shape of its leaving
I bite into that      after which objects made      for fastening or agony
are named & call it      my jaw’s keratin prayer      to whatever continues
after good bone ends      the body’s pain at last      obedient to the shrill whistle
of skin’s closure      with just my mouth      I’ve found the neat seam
of grief’s thick gown      split my blood from      its dogged heat
& gaped that wound      into something a girl      could pass through
this blue shore upon      which someone sharpens      the thumb’s crescent shell
into a furious moon      tender with newness      its only purpose
to keep its sky      from emptiness the way      I cannibalize hurt to keep
my belly full      watch me gut      my own extinction      sure it’s ugly
to say I can      be touched by gravity      without being habitable
how planets in orbit      bear their ends beneath      the ground’s deep rush
I too was born      to tongue mercy      & grew teeth around it      watch me
build a scaffold      my knees will never      crush themselves to
watch me swallow      the hardest thing      my body has made      & live

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