Summer Writing Camp: An (Imaginary) Phonecall

by Lillian Fu
Art by Joy Song
Issue: Nostos (Winter 2019)

No, Mom, I’m not homesick.

I like it here, a few hundred miles away from that valley, 

the orange light above the dining table,

the sidewalk where I told you I want to be a writer

and you laughed. 

They don’t laugh here, Mom.

I don’t have to hide the words on my Google docs here, Mom.


No, Mom, I’m not homesick.

I’m sick of home. Fifth grade science camp, 

my first week away from you,

and I yearned every day of elementary school

for the sight of that yellow school bus. Now,

I spend all year waiting for summer,

sun liberty sweetness without your scowl.


No, Mom, I’m not homesick.

They like my writing here, the writing you haven’t read 

since that poem about Van Gogh’s Starry Night I wrote when I was eleven, 

when I still wrote about things I find beautiful.

You don’t want to read my poetry 

because you’re scared you don’t know me, 

a few hundred miles away 

from your immature, senseless daughter.

I don’t want you to read my poetry because it’s about you. 

It’s always about you,

and Dad, and the orange light above 

the dining table where I sat and watched 

your lips turn purple as you cannibalized

each other, so


no, Mom, I’m not homesick.

The farther I flee the more I write about you,

the more I am reduced to just a little girl too angry,

too Silicon Valley ABC to talk to the white kids

who write about sex and love and getting drunk,


I want to write love poems like a teenager too.

I don’t want to be stuck writing about you until I die. 


You know,

I have a tiger in my throat, saber-toothed and savage,

a marker of our blood bond beasted family, 

and I can’t clamp my lips over it anymore. 

I hear you in my hoarse voice roaring like I’m a dog

in a dogfight, not your child. 

Mom, I hate the way this house makes us scream.

I hate the way my poetry screams too,

every verse immortalizing you. 


No, Mom, I’m not homesick.

I don’t miss you.

I’m sorry.