Sher Ting Chim

Originally from a sunny island in Southeast Asia, Sher Ting is a Singaporean-Chinese currently residing in Australia. She is a 2021 Writeability Fellow with Writers Victoria and a Pushcart and Best of The Net nominee with work published/forthcoming in Pleiades, Colorado Review, OSU The Journal, The Pinch, Salamander, Chestnut Review, Rust+Moth and elsewhere. Her debut chapbook, Bodies of Separation, is forthcoming with Cathexis Northwest Press, and her second chapbook, The Long-Lasting Grief of Foxes, is forthcoming with CLASH! Books in 2023. She tweets at @sherttt and writes at


Bak Kut Teh

肉: You peel the chilli, layer by layer, unearthing a clot of
seeds from its copper pith. The soup simmers on the stove,
frothing sunset gold over the blue-gas flames, drowned out by
radio talk of the day’s weather.

How’s your day at school?

The meat melts off the bones in the pressure cooker, pork fat
dripping from softened limbs like snow from black root on a
winter morning.

It’s fine.

You sift the remaining bone-stock with a colander, flushed
with thyme and aniseed. You tell me to scrape the flesh off the
bones with a knife and laugh when my fingers slip, wrangling
silver against each cord-like sinew.

Honey, there’s more than one way
to get to the heart of things,

You whisper as you pull out a larger knife and, taking the pig
trotter from my hands, whistle each hardened tendon – splitting
the ropes – off of the skeleton flower.

骨: Some nights, snow swathes the streets in silent, sleet-wet
pavements. You call me on the phone while you’re peeling an
orange, and like muscle memory, I say I’m busy, distracted.

Okay then listen to me.

You tell me about the lady who stops by the store every day,
never buys anything, just stares at the row of wooden horses.
You tell me how you walked the extra mile to get your
favourite diner coffee, chortling eggs and beans while watching
the busker ignite one-half of a weary skyline. This way, you
can tell your friends we still talk.

There’s more than one way
to get to the heart of things

茶: You tell me about driftwood, sangria, cherry blossoms and
tea, while splitting an orange down the middle, spooning the
seeds off its insides. I fall asleep, cord entwined around my
finger, having heard all about your day. You listen to the rise
and fall of my breath, dip a slice of orange into your cup of tea,

Long over-steeped, almost bitter to taste, still waiting to hear