This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

September-October 2018

Ibu Saudara Isteri

New poetry by Tess Liem

Tess Liem

Aunt Hwie, (like we)
was, I learned, aunt Hoei (like oui)
was bibi Hoei to me
and The Thian Hoei (like thé, tiens, oui)

Father, took Joseph in English,
is Sioe An (like Sue Ann),
is bapak to me,

& we spelled
her name wrong repeatedly.

Uncle, took Joseph in English too,
is Sioe Siet (like sue seat), is paman to me,

& he didn’t correct us all along
until now & Hoei,
in English, Josephine.

As far as I know ‘ibu’, ‘saudara’, ‘isteri’,

are as unknown to me as ‘Hoei’,
are mother, sister, wife,

& Hoei was oui was we

Tess Liem is a queer writer living in Montreal/Tiotia:ke. She is the author of the chapbook Tell everybody I say hi (Anstruther 2017), and her writing has appeared in Plenitude, Room magazine, PRISM international, and elsewhere. Her debut collection of poetry is Obits.

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