Young Poet: Tricia Tan

Tricia Tan Hui Ling is a 22 year old medical student from Singapore. She is a finalist of Sing Lit Station’s Manuscript Bootcamp, and has been published in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, SOFTBLOW and Singapore Unbound, among others. She can often be found scribbling poetry in old case notes, and believes in being patient with the histories of others and her own.

finding nemo in the ward

the aquarium of her ward was rich as ever
in the Great Barrier Reef Hospital. Old fish diving
in the shallows of the ED. The pillows a lush anemone,
her clownfish gown swallowed in. My smile daft
as Dory’s. Brief as bubbles, or the unprofitable
script of prologue. The Tank Gang hovers
around mother’s intestines, a botched animation.
A neon green cleaner shrimp mops malignancies.
A damselfish petitions for the capital punishment of cells.
A blowfish births theme songs for the final battle.
A moorish idol slits silence with an utterance
of deliverance. Sometimes God reminds me
of the only dentist in Pixar. You could replay
his stare twenty times over and still shudder.
In the movie, a drain leads into the ocean.
I’m not sure what an ocean is, anymore.

Chan Brother’s Super Christmas Package

In the forcefield of 2019’s Christmas, mother found us
a snow globe vacation home. Iceland in miniature.
We shrunk to the size of dates, chased baby’s breaths
of auroras, their doily tapestries flung over our heads.
She’s hacking away at a turkey the size of a fingernail, now.
We sit with the porcelain stew and gravy, watch mother fracture
the pink flesh in salty shards of confetti, float
meal prayers up a glycerin sky. Hurray, we deadpan,
as if it was All Part Of The Plan. Hurray, we try,
in the Secret Christmas Escape Room. We’re tracing it out now,
in the polymer snow. The context that comes with this
holiday, I mean. You’re still following us, right?
Following us in the imagined attic. Shake it up
if you still don’t get it. Shake it up for us again, won’t you?


On the ride back from the doctor's you hold
one still palm up to the sun as another begins
to shake. We were miners then, your hands like canaries
in persistent echo, rinsing diamonds from stone
stomachs of granite. What was precious:
our small quarry of days. The moments I lope
in a satchel: you laughing with slow blinks. You
smiling like the thin and early moon. All these frames
paginated in a slow, unrelenting march. You shuffling
forward, pausing the way an old man might
hesitate with poker cards. All your members
falling, freezing. Madopar rising like a stubborn white
flag from the doctor’s coat, calling for an epitaph we were still
naming. The way we knew the colour of doves and
brightness – all this before we called it white.

taste the rainbow

skittles reminds us to taste the rainbow, to cherish
every soft bead of rain eclipsing on tongues. Transfixed
by an ever dividing dichotomy of seasons. Droplet
days falling like leaves in Singapore’s evergreen
autumn. Our flower dome by the bay sieves spring’s
brightest children into our island estate. We spin
in this foray from the equatorial. Cataract from winter
in snow city, summer in the ticketing booth, then monsoons
come morning. In the mrt carriage one wonders at the years
past. How I can grab to jurong and skid on safe, cold ice, embrace
tangled mangrove from handlebars and neatly wooded floor. What a world
we made. This humble slice of hemisphere. We awake cradled like the air
coring love letters. My sky coloured by a kaleidoscope of flat windows –
come morning the advertisement on the old television refreshes, renews.