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Self Love

CAS for Database

Juanru Zhang


Singapore American School


I am a God-loving woman,

I worship my body down to every holy bone.

The fading neon signs of the shabby bar

Are the halos crowning my divinity.

Where drunken men and exotic women

moan and dance in dirty bed sheets—

luxuriate in the enchantments to exorcise desolation.

A dirty bag of powder goes into the pretty schoolgirl’s drink,

Saggy stripper sprawling on the stage, shoves another fistful

of one-dollar bills between her breasts.

A casual drink turns into a drunken brawl, and the bartender

demands payment for two broken glasses.

The rustling of dollar bills beats

louder than the wings of angels.

Men will come in droves,

Tear me apart and leave me bleeding. Pitiful silhouettes

with no particular distinctions in bed, or in the art

of making oneself whole.

A fly circles idly around the flicker ceiling light, limbs

reach inside and pull out, trembling

in the fiery dance to cast away creeping loneliness.

Men can hide their faces from the probing eyes of saints

Cower under dirty sheets wrangled in tears,

kneel to pray for forgiveness

and stare right up at me.

I count the crinkled greenbacks in my wallet, smudge new lipstick

onto my peeling lips, feel the kiss of new coats

against my bruised body.

Buy time against isolation, hastily

stuff money into bottomless lust, and

laugh in the face of divine judgment.


Nothing could have prepared me for Self Love. Many rereads later, I cannot compare it to anything; it is simply Self Love, and it is unique. The author discusses divinity in a setting that I previously thought impossible, and proves me wrong in every line.

Juanru Zhang, attends Singapore American School in Singapore. She will be graduating in the year 2022.


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