Image credit: Thuy On. Photograph by Leah Jing

Chrysos by Thuy On


“I have written a suite of poems to explore the concept of hopefulness and resilience. As a poet I often write about possibility rather than reality so my poems will explore navigating the future after a traumatic event (one that’s never specified because I want it to remain inclusive and generalised).

I think we’re living in particularly difficult times at the moment, assailed by fear and anxiety and I hope my work on this platform can make people feel a little better, to make them prevail and hope in times of great uncertainty and despair.”

1. After

When all this is over
I want to take your hand and run
into forest into city into sea
I want to rip apart this fabric
filming over our eyes
blow all dandelion florets
into the clouds and chase them
holler and cause violence to silence
careen into corners tumble like marbles
down hillocks spiderwebs brushing
I want to loiter with no intent
in alcoves mischief-making
and exhale to the sun.

3. Wabi-sabi

There won’t be any deus ex machina
swooping down to save us fools
theatrical in the bustle of life business

so smug in schedules and shopping
tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow
we thought, so righteous and sure

but now coughing, ashen and circumspect
felled by our own dirty hands
so best not to look to the heavens

time to divest space & remain still
be a witness not a player
practice insider art, exhale in solitude.

2. Wayfinding

If only there was another exit
except the one through the gift store
and crows actually flew in straight lines
not in great wheeling arcs
if only the moonlit flip of silvery koi
taught us how to swim upstream
and sign posts were sign language
gesticulations in mid-air flurry
cutting through labyrinthine
paths right to the heart.

4. Chrysos

Slothful and boneless
how do we recall the muscle memory
of rolling in green-sea grass?
how do we scrape the walls of life
to find the seams of gold?

soon we’ll part the curtains
whose bold print had bleached in the sun
when time moved so sedulously
& we’ll stretch the perimeters of our bodies
ephemerality in this earth hurtling us on.

Chrysos by Thuy On is created for Shelter 2020.