Self Portrait as a Clothespin Hanging by the Window by Jocelyn Li


Self Portrait as a Clothespin Hanging by the Window


It is in early afternoons

that I am closest to the marble windowsill.

I drip dry against gravity —

his orange boxers,

her cotton thongs; wet

and gendered like the halo

pierced through my legs.

With this silver hoop

I could clip up creaseless metres of sheet

and bring the sea to shame.

My wings know no bounds

past 45 degrees. My wings

know not to get too close

to the heat.


By sunset the clothes are folded away,

lime-scented piles segregated

in their bedrooms. I hang naked,

flapping against the wind

like a homesick seagull.

I am either too heavy

or underdressed.


Most of the time I prefer

not to think. I prefer to be suspended

between stillness and ripples.

I prefer to oversee the messy

activity through the glass.


Look at the huddled lights,

clutching on the side of a cruise

as if they might sink.

If the constellations weren’t covered by smog

they’d probably adopt them all — as I would.

It’s a motherly instinct we share, to love

and protect small flickering things.


Yet I too am a plastic speck,

a phantom against the thick sky.

I am so small I might blink away

if I wish hard enough.

That’s what nomads do, don’t they?

I am a lifetime away from adventure,

from the stars that don’t have a home.


I thank the hangers and window grills

for grounding me like this.



Jocelyn Li Sin Ting’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Diagram, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Oxford Poetry, PEN Hong Kong and Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine, among others. She is born and based in Hong Kong, with her pet lizard and frog. Website: jocelynlisinting.wordpress.com