Christine Chen (she/they) is a writer from Shanghai, China, and an undergraduate student at Princeton University. She serves on the Executive Board and as the Creative Writing Director of You’re Not ... [+]

Image of Poetry
As she sticks the needle into me
Fiddles with it until the blood trickles
Into place in the first of five vials
She asks why I’m here
“School” I tell her
Still eying the rubber tubing
Winding in her hand
And she asks me where I live
Assuming that I’m only here
Because I have to
Because I’ve been out of the country
And I say China proudly
Though weak from missing breakfast
For the bloodwork
“That’s so cool” she says
Her eyes still on my blood in her hand
Red hot in the clear vials
“My friend’s boss’s wife is actually from there”
I know she’s smiling behind her mask
Waiting for me to say “oh really”
Half-sarcastically as approval
Before she realizes
“Wait, no, she’s from Korea”
Embarrassed but not apologizing
I look at my blood
Willing it to rush faster into the bottle
All of it boiling inside my body
Dark as embers
As I joke about the “good food there”
And listen to her rant on about
How “they stay there for a month at a time
Because it’s so far”
Before she bandages me with white gauze
And a strip of blue
Tape on my arm
Sandwiching the red in my body
Unsettled by her
“Safe trip home honey”
Though I’m still smiling