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The University of Edinburgh's three creative writing prizes, open for 2024 submissions
Tim Tim Cheng: She Will

Tim Tim Cheng: She Will

Runner Up for the 2022 Grierson Verse Prize

Tim Tim Cheng is a poet and a teacher from Hong Kong, currently reading the MSc in Creative Writing at the University of Edinburgh. She is a WrICE fellow, awardee of the William Hunter Sharpe Memorial Scholarship and a mentee of Roddy Lumsden Memorial Mentorship. Her poems are published or forthcoming in Rialto, Berfrois, diode, The Margins, ANMLY, Cicada Magazine, Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre Weekly Poem, Cordite Poetry Review, Ricepaper, among others. She is working on maintaining eye-contact during conversations, chapbooks which explore Hong Kong’s various vistas, as well as desire and rituals through the lens of tattooing.

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after the movie Shell (2012) by Scott Graham

A car crash is just touching

too much—the father

scurries into the headlight

like the roadkill he butchers, the meat

his daughter cooks reluctantly.

          Shock is when you eat

and bite into the membrane

of your lips instead—the daughter

darts from his bed, bruised

like whatever fruit her body isn’t.

          You, lit-up by your screen,

choke up on the daughter’s cry:

how stories are the last refuge

of mistakes. Things unwanted in life

could just live there. The father,

the daughter, shelled in their motherless wild,

take turns to push each other’s

kisses away—they do what they do

just to show you how far

things could carry over.

          But what about the day,

just that one day your father

cries, telling you things

you think only your mother

should know. He edges too close

by your bed. His temperature,

an omen. The ear you lend him

forcibly opened. Your panic

is a burst kitchen pipe

your father fails to stop—

          you escape for the first time,

wearing a plain, white shirt,

wondering if you’re mistaken

for your mother. You live inside a hotel

mirror. This man, another man

you barely know, whose hands run all over

your insecurities, is sound asleep

like a foetus—how do you tell

what is and what isn’t until

          you watch the daughter outrun her past.


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