April Lit: "Projector" by Cathy Linh Che

April 7, 2014

Image by Petr Kratochvil

Cathy Linh Che's poem "Projector" is a quiet, tense poem that captures the helplessness of a child forced into an adult situation. The poem is painful in its sparseness and heartbreaking in its untold brutality.

The poem is part of Che's forthcoming collection 'Split', available from Alice James Books on April 29th.

-- Karissa Chen, Fiction & Poetry Editor



While I slept, my cousin placed
his mother’s mask on me,
asked me if I loved him. 

He wore wolf ears.
I willed him to hear the change
in atmosphere, the tilt of air 

—no, no, no—

his finger slid
under the white

The air was cool,
my face on fire. 

I wore my woman’s mask.
I was ten years old. 

When he kissed me, the edges
of our magnetic fields touched.
Inside, my heart compressed 

into a black hole.


Cathy Linh Che

Cathy Linh Che is the author of 'Split' (Alice James, 2014), winner of the 2012 Kundiman Poetry Prize. She has been awarded fellowships from Poets & Writers, Hedgebrook, Poets House, and The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Residency.