Tess Liem

Anonymous Woman Elegy

The story is about the woman who comes into a cafe
three times a week.

It is about how she is a woman
but is not given a name.

It is about how she died.
About not knowing the woman’s name

until she died.
About gathering with strangers to mourn.

It is about the morning the woman died.
The story is about how the woman smiled.

Her teeth.
It is about whether she had a lover,

whether she was loved
whether she deserved love.

Then suddenly the story is about how the narrator feels
bad about the time she told her mother she hated her.

About whether the narrator deserves love.
For a moment, about the woman.

For another, about everyone. But mainly
the story is about the narrator:

how she can make anything
about anyone

about herself seem like
it’s about everyone for a moment.

Tess Liem reads, writes, eats and sleeps in Montreal. Her writings appear in The Malahat Review, The Puritan, Room Magazine and elsewhere. Her chapbook, “Tell Everybody I Say Hi” was published by Anstruther Press in 2017.