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jessica lim


traversing the seacoast which straddles a mountain ridgeline where we meet this strange green wall i have only seen in my dreams. we can’t go any further, but we do not turn back.

spring is the worst season.
i was born in spring.

i recall catching the bus home on my 12th birthday.
the smell of rain evaporating from october asphalt
toy flowers blow up cartoon streets
pale pink petals suspended in the blue night air.

i was born with a fake name.
my mother changed my name to my chinese name, lim (林) which means forest, or two trees, when i was a child.

but she didn’t change my birthday.
birthdays never change.

i thought if i moved to canada i could have my birthday in high summer, or fall.

my sister was born in autumn and there was always sun-bleached hair and smiles at the party.
everyone looks happy, sister laughs. in the only photo taken, i look at the cake, downcast.

the childhood self changes with the seasons. complicated by the falling leaves, a shift in name reflects her polyglot and polyreligious ancestry...

my siblings were born in indonesia, but my mum wanted us to grow up in the quiet green mountain range she called home. so she packed us up, sister bundled in her womb, and moved back to new zealand.

before my parents met in sydney, 1980s, my father left his home on a small island in the indonesian archipelago where my family hid for twenty years underground with a name purchased in order to escape persecution and death.

do you believe in intergenerational trauma?

because i could not carry the weight of this name
i think my father liked me less.

the name is a way of unravelling, the name is a way of staying the same.


19 years old, studying andy warhol’s screen tests in the basement of an empty film school. i am taken by the actresses slow moving eyes and overexposed, ghostly face.

i never wanted to be the actress, but i did always want to be far from home.

when i am far from home
i always accept the rain.

the rain begins to fall like a slow alarm


a slow procession turns into a flood of people
and then gone.

Jessica Lim is a poet, zine maker and prison abolitionist currently studying a Masters in Sociology at the University of Auckland.