An Ode to the Word “Love” by Liyang Wu

I nitpick words
I weigh each syllable
Before I speak

I know people who don’t dare say the word out loud
I’m one of them

It feels too heavy in my mouth
Its curves and edges
so evenly spread
that it sounds more powerful than it might seem

Symphonies have been played
Novels written
Rivers run dry
Lovers drunk
Kingdoms have risen and fallen
Walls built and torn down
For love

It feels too heavy in my mouth
Like four letters can shatter fragile emotions
It anchors my tongue to promises I might not be able to keep

You, however
You take away its weight
Throw it around like confetti
Keep a handful of it in your pockets
Like extra change
You whisper it into my ear
Carve it into the curve of my neck
Kiss it into my palms
Trace every letter between my thighs

I love you, you wrap your arms around me
I love you I love you I love you
I think about how the word has torn down walls
And how it’s tearing down all of mine




Liyang Wu is a strong advocate for LGBTQ+ rights, feminism, poems that do not rhyme, self-deprecating jokes and Hainanese chicken rice. When she’s not busy being sleep-deprived or/and avoiding responsibilities, she enjoys exploring bookstores, making art, and writing everything from poems to cringe-worthy Instagram captions (you can find her self-published poems at She is 16 and currently lives in Shanghai, China.

Germ Magazine guest author
… is a contributing guest author for Germ, which means the following criteria (and then some) have been met: possessor of a fresh, original voice; creator of fresh, original content; genius storyteller; superlative speller; fantastic dancer; expert joke teller; handy with a toolbox; brilliant at parties; loves us as much as we love them.



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