Allison Thung

Which of course makes me a hypocrite for only falling in love with people unbothered by clothing tags

As a child buying new clothes I had to be told repeatedly to note just the fit and material when asked if I was comfortable, because otherwise (and really, even then) I’d jump to no, I don’t want it, because XL (100% Polyester) was digging into my back, and the security tag into my side, and no amount of exasperated assurances that they can and will be removed would be enough for me. But the truth was that I just didn’t trust my judgment, because what if the dress still sucked even without the tags? Then I’d never hear the end of how it was a complete waste of time and money, and nobody needs that, so it just seemed easier to fixate on the ephemeral scratchiness and say no altogether. I mean for god’s sake, I was 6, and $44.95 could probably buy a house. And I mean for god’s sake, I am 30, and what if I looked past the surface irritants and took a leap and it turned out to be a complete waste of time, honey? 


Twice my mother doesn’t speak her mind


I am washing my hands for the fifth time this afternoon. While they announce the loosened restrictions and celebrate The End of Covid, I receive a delivery from a polite courier with his mask hanging below his nose, and now I am washing my hands as if they are stained with blood and faeces, like I am trying to polish my bones. My mother looks like she wants to comment on the handwashing, but all she says is “Remember to drink some water.” I will, right after I almost apply for this “work from home” job that will turn out to require 10% international travel and regular in-person meetings with clients. It’s been two years since I’ve left the house for fun. Sometimes I think about that Friday I cut my lunch short so I could stop by the Kuan Yin temple ten minutes from my office to get my fortune told with sacred oracle lots. Did you know they call it lottery poetry? I didn’t, until I was writing this poem.


My face does that thing it does where people can’t tell how old I am, which is a good thing in this case because nobody needs to know I am three from thirty waiting seven hours in the cold to get barrier at a gig. The wind is chilly enough that my hair looks good, but damp enough that running my fingers through will rip strands out. My mother drops off grilled fish from a fancy restaurant down the road and cutlery from the hotel, and comes back again later to hold my spot in line so I can do a toilet run. The person behind me remarks that my sister is nicer than hers would ever be. Some girl on Instagram with a seated ticket/more sense than me asks if I’m the one in the leather jacket. Some guy who looks like he should be backstage with the band joins the queue. A few metres away, some bomb-sniffing dog does its job. The lead singer/love of my life doesn’t reply to my DM, but he does accidentally drool from opening his mouth too wide to catch my favourite note, and nobody but me and two other girls at the front notice his surreptitious glance down at his shirt. I don’t remind him of it when he comes out to meet fans after the show, and he thanks me for following this leg of the tour. My mother says he looks best in our last photograph together. 


Allison Thung is a poet and project manager from Singapore. Her poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Emerge Literary JournalBrave Voices MagazineRoi Fainéant Press, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @poetrybyallison or at