Michelle Lin


Punctum Caecum

The rain falling back into the dock. Recollection too
is a downpour, one I have cleaved against 

in this waterless state we have made. Never mind
I’ve been mugged in a house and home made

of water I thought had been lined 
with a forever blue. Lips against ankle, after-salt

remembering first wound. To tell him too—just 
a dream, as I fall back from his gaze 

and into salty Muni seats. Nothing romantic with
foam gray on tides. Almost everything is romantic,

but. What it is, everything, but. Hand held slightly 
to the right and missing a finger. Violence 

broken into unfamiliar syntax is still
a violence. If I bled, would it be

when I did not love him enough. What I saw
sitting up, looking down,

when I had crowned myself in the blood
of a man. What it is, refuse 

at the expense of another. What I saw through 
my body, the blue, the sky.


In Any Other Context, I’d Love To

strap knives to the bottom of my shoes
and go forth, but this is not what this

sport is. And then there’s the tricky history
of thin ice and drowning and hypothermia,

though now we’re housed in this mall
between the Gap and Macy’s, but why

anyone would want to flirt with death,
as we’re flung farther and further with

new loosened inertia, is beyond me. 
It’s like thank God for the internet, but even

with that at our fingers, we’re still throwing
money to spend time in other people’s shoes,

which honestly is a disgusting act. 
Each season, puffed like penguins,

except less cute and far less agile. You know,
in any other context, meaning 

ours, penguins cheat on their partners,
which couldn’t be further from the truth

even if you strapped boots to it and flung it
flailing into a petrified lake. The internet says

easily, we like to share our pain with birds
which is why we’d flatten them into being

just like us. The internet hardly says
we also do this to masses of people.

Which is not to say certain people are 
like penguins. No one is saying anything 

is equal to anything here, but one moment
of ice skating is like repeating

middle school four more times, and
why would we want to reprise that nostalgia

together in this cold ass room, going
around in circles? Middle School

Michelle does not understand this yet.
She’s at the point in her life, where

she’d offer someone else her shoes
to try not out of kindness, but

hope. And penguins don’t cheat, but
have learned up to seven different

dances for fishing depending on the level
of oil slick, which is a kind of shiny hope

not unlike the gleam on my and my 
best friend’s nose when we slept over

seven years later and kissed. 
I’m no penguin, but was called

a cheating whore anyway, when I tried
to tell him I was sorry for loving someone

other than him, meaning, myself. 
This new person I love asked me

to write this poem, which isn’t to say
I am trying on another voice, but that

I’d sit here awhile instead of zooming
forth and forth from what I did 

not know back then, as I pulled on the heaviest
rentals smell of toe jam and nachos

and slid out between the ice and lights
and just past pubescent boys, and smiled.



Michelle Lin is the author of A House Made of Water (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2017), a lyrical examination of Asian American identity, gender and daughterhood, the inheritance of stories, and survival from trauma. Her latest poems can be found in HEArt, Apogee, Powder Keg Magazine, and more. She has performed for Kearny Street Workshop’s APAture, grlhood—redefining the I // here I am, Litquake, and more. She is a Kundiman fellow. Learn more at michellelinpoet.wordpress.com.