• Kaiwern Koo

“If I’m Not Here”

This poem was originally published on The Pittsburgher’s predecessor, The Dog Door Cultural.


The air had stilled the way it did

When the television was on,

And the air twinkled in that way

That good things in plastic wrap would.

To peel back that plaster and reveal a

Wound –

What luxury.


I try to explain:

Fish tank, I say

With my hands,

Drawing out windows and windows

And I don’t like to drive anymore

I am in constant state of seeing things through

Glass.


My grandma is making soup in the disinfected kitchen,

And limbo is a childhood of still water

I keep trying to explain:

I’m tired.

Have you slept?


The last time I tried to be my mother,

I couldn’t assume her motionless waver.

Though I became my father without effort –

I’ve started to write for others

And hear myself become a mouse.

What ever happened to moving to the big city

And becoming big –


There’s stacks of newspapers outside my door

Slouched on the welcome mat like a visitor

That doesn’t know when to leave.

I wish they’d just wash away with the rain


By the back door, the black cat

Paws at peeling paint

In another time, I try

Once more: ▲


Kaiwern Koo is an undergraduate at The University of Melbourne majoring in English & Theatre Studies and Creative Writing. Her work focuses on isolation, the dismantling of identity, and uncertainty.