“Forgive Me if I Ask Whether Actors Feel Lonely” by Naomi Ling

Naomi Ling (age 15)


The actress on TV         announces,         we were on a break!
        and everyone claps. So many beginnings
        culled into a single         punchline. This isn’t how it goes
in real life:         so many         endings in tired eyes.
        Wednesday.         The boy I love, hanging         from the
        ceiling with ankles blooming red         like wrists.
Bodies         are meant to be displayed. This is a         world
        that forgets         that it’s a         world:
Or maybe         it doesn’t mind.                 Cry me a river,
        the actress         is wailing. She’s talking         and she isn’t
talking. Zipper fraying.         Mouth hemorrhaging.
        I wonder if she         ever feels lonely:         the         actress,
I mean. I don’t want to mistake her         for         a
        moth-desecrated         streetlight.         I imagine her
turning like violets         in her sleep, remembering         herself only
        when she steps on set.         I want a world
for my own, a world that forgets         my name.         Silly me.
        I already have one.         Funny how a thousand
faces         can reimagine themselves         as pixels,         how
        it is possible to         cry for someone who is
half-silvered         behind a screen. On the TV,         the
        actress smiles like         Dorothy, like Dolly,
and         martyrs herself to the all-American         housewife.

from 2021 Rattle Young Poets Anthology


Why do you like to write poetry?

Naomi Ling: “I like to write poetry because it is a medium that can interpret not only creativity, but necessity. Too often do societal and worldly issues go ignored, and poetry is a way to spark conversation.”

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