Poetry Wendy Xu

If I begin speaking to you now, you will have expectations

You read me, as I read to you, and am read by you

The problem with our reading is that, objectively, I do not control you

You observe me as I walk my body to take my place here before you

To me, you are here before me

In this regard, we are at least tenuously set equal

Whatever you expect me to say, I cannot fulfill it

I speak for myself, and not for you

Though, I am interested in the ideas and feelings I may subsequently cause within you

I am interested in the ways that my perception of your evaluation of me will inform my sense of “identity” in the days to come

I am interested in the various ways my performance (as it is a performance) does not meet your expectations

How did you hear my voice in your mind before you heard my voice?

I am interested in what you think of me

I want to solve the problem of the reading

A more precise description is that I want to solve the problem of the power you momentarily inherit against me in the space of the reading

There are many paths you have taken to arrive here, to be with me

Part of the problem is my desire to honor the places you are not, and cannot be, while you are here with me

I have arrived here to be with you through a process of relaxing the guard around my unfilled hours

To give you the gift of unambiguous experience, I would say, “I am very happy to be here,” which is a part of the truth, as well as I can perceive it

In equal truth it costs me to be here with you

I see you wanting to give me the gift of your un-expectation

I love you

I thank you for it

“Each new issue feels like a public report from many individual private spheres.” —Antoine Wilson

Back to Top
Issue 25



Winter 2017


Wendy Xu is the author of Phrasis (FENCE), which received the 2016 Ottoline Prize, and the poetry editor of Hyperallergic. She was born in Shandong, China, and lives in New York City.


A Public Space is an independent magazine of literature and culture. It was founded in 2006. You can read more about the magazine’s history and mission - click here.


A subscription to A Public Space now includes home delivery of the print magazine as well as access to the digital editions (epub, mobi, and pdf files) and the online archive.

For Just


Subscribe Today

A Public Space 323 Dean Street Brooklyn, NY 11217 t: 718.858.8067     General Information     Subscription Help