• Victoria Chwa

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Snippet of "Introduction in a Poem", from my Masters Programme Dissertation titled:

All the Things I Wish I Knew: A Guide to Body and Being through Memories of Girlhood, Family and Institution


Written as spoken word.





If you had to pick one object to encompass your body, what would it be?

Maybe it reminds you of home, the sun or the sea.

Maybe it makes you feel things you only see in dreams -

the kind you have at night; the kind nobody else can see.


Does this object reflect the way you see your body?

Maybe it's a mirror into your memories,

and maybe, in it, you see tapestries

of little big things like childhood, freedom and family.


What is the thing you now hold in your hand?

Maybe it's not a thing at all! It's a friend -

one you knew all your life and suddenly you didn’t,

not because you chose to forget it, but because of the distance


you had to walk and tread and climb,

across mountains of youth and test and time,

to get to where you are, where you now sit or stand,

but maybe this is not where you want to be in the end.


And on your journey, do you stop to listen

to the things your body is saying it misses and disses?

As you look forward to all that awaits and glistens,

do you look back at the ditches and bridges -


the ones on the path you had to cross?

or in the spaces you were in, the ones you were part of (or not)?

And the ones on your body, the marks that are left -

the ones that remind you of what could come next?


How much of all this comes up if you were asked who you were,

or are, or have been, or will be now and forever?

How much of who you are is what you see

on your body, in your mind and in your memories?


If you are a mother with a child, are you a mother first?

But you also have a mother, would that make you a daughter first?

If you are a student, would that make you a learner?

But you also teach others, are you then learner and learned?


If you are asked to introduce yourself, what would you say?

Does your body ever get in the way

of you talking about who you are and have been?

Does your body make you feel seen or unseen?


When are we something or multiple things?

Does that depend on where we are, come from or have been?

Or who we are related to, or lie next to,

what we are called, or answer to?


If I told you who I was, would you believe me?

Or would you think I was someone else,

someone you wanted me to be?

Maybe I’m not who I say I am


and you will never really know if i was miss, mister or madame.

Do our bodies inhabit spaces, or do spaces construct us instead?

Does what we are bred for affect where we get to lay our heads?

Maybe we’re more than our bodies, or maybe that’s all we are,


but if i told you there was a way to find out, would you come from afar

and walk with me, and see where we go?

We might need to stop at a scar and a retrospective show.

It might be painful, but I promise you this,

we’ll at least learn how to see the parts of us they treat remiss.

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