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Jody Chan


Telling my mother I’m not her daughter


媽 / it’s me / 茈 華 / Ah Ma / if you recognized me / when you saw me / you would be the first /  today / 阿媽 / I’m not / your daughter / how / can I explain this / to you? / we share no words / for what I am / girl / bird / boy / tangled / thing / so call me / what you want / 媽 /

I’m still / that girl / who wanted / to be a boy / who looked like a girl / who thought / if they could just outlast / childhood / they could live / behind a disguise / of their own weaving / 媽 / today I excavate / a question / from my skin / & call it / gender / Ma / have you ever wanted / to be the bayonet / & not the bird? / 媽 / I can’t forget / what was done / to me / because he / looked / at me and saw / a woman / meaning wick / waiting / to be consumed / meaning flesh / waiting to be / fetish / I mean I cannot leave / my body / but I can leave / the woman / ravenous field / bonepudding / in me / meaning sometimes I want to be a wall / & sometimes a pillow / 阿媽 / do you understand? / I do not want to be a woman / because I am not / a woman / hold up a mirror / every time / your body / dismantles / its own shell / & finds / the imprint / of an invisible yoke / 媽 / I burrow these questions / through my skin / how can I explain this to myself / Ah Ma / have you / ever wanted / to be the cancer / & not / the soft feast / of organs?

Borderline personality disorder: an episode in parts


The time with the bed & the brittle boy is the first time you realize your no is not as final as you were taught to believe. Is the first time you trade all your words for walls. Before anyone notices your mouth is a ghost town. Your cries for help nothing more than the scream of wind chimes abandoned by the wind.



You never stay long enough to be left. The time you sprinted south on Lansdowne the hill at

your back & the boy you didn’t think you were brave enough to love. Why postpone the instinct to unanchor? You’d practiced for such a separation from your body you would peel your heart-soaked flesh from your bones & love the empty you left behind if only to be bodiless & therefore needless.



& then some days you typhoon through a home a relationship another life. How long did you dance in the dark all sharp silk & loose wrists? Raze what you must. Your body is not a safe place & everyone should know. Soon you will count the outlines on the sidewalk & mourn but not yet.



You leak loneliness like a colony of slowly starving fruit flies. That time you took out the trash & didn’t know what to do with their wrinkled corpses in the living room brown accusatory specks everywhere you looked. Live long enough inside a wreckage and you become a wreckage. Haunted by the people you thought would be better off without you.



The time every morning you wake with guilt a heavy stone to carry. You look at yourself & the looking tides you underwater there is no difference between dusk & daybreak & it’s possible you think that you have been sad forever. Tell me are you treading an ocean or a mirror? What side

of the glass surface are you on? Are you disappointed when you jump in with your eyes wide

open & you do not drown?

Jody Chan is a writer and organizer based in Toronto. Their writing focuses on themes of family, queerness, and mental illness. They are a 2017 VONA alum and their poetry has been published in Lunch Ticket and Ricepaper Magazine, among others.

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