Dorothy Chan

The One

“Maybe I’m not the one for you,” he says, when my body rejects him for the umpteenth time. I tell him to have sex with someone else. His weight against mine—“You’re tiny,” he says for the umpteenth time—“You’re tiny,” something a man would say to a woman in a black-and-white movie. “We’re not done here.” He bites me on the lips. Kissing is more intimate, but only when you love someone. The one. “You’re tiny,” he said weeks before our meet-up in the hotel room where he brings me waffles and bacon bits in the morning. The hotel with the fold-down ironing board. “You’re tiny,” he said, weeks before, and “We can share my full-sized bed when you visit me, because you don’t take up a whole lot of space.” The one size that works for a man like him who pins me down in bed until I kiss him back, who tells me what celebrities he’s supposed to resemble. A point of pride. Robert Downey Jr. Jim Carrey. “All hair related.” John Malkovich “now.” He sighs. I never think of celebrities this deeply, I tell him. He looks at me like I’m the one who wronged him. He pins me down. I’m embarrassed when he shows me his beard brush in the morning, which used to be his hairbrush. I used to feel so gorgeous when I slept with much older men. My thick black hair. My red lips. Old movies in bed. Old Fashioneds. How I was the personification of who they should have married years ago but missed out on. The one. Homemade popcorn dipped in caramel. Licorice anything. Old movies in bed for the umpteenth time. The celebrities I crush on skew younger—close to my age.



Dorothy Chan is the author of five poetry collections, including the forthcoming, Return of the Chinese Femme (Deep Vellum Books Fall 2023 / Spring 2024). They are an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Honey Literary Inc, 501(c)(3) BIPOC literary arts organization, run by women, femme, and queer editors of color. Visit their website at