Ask the Hydrangea

By Michael Shou-Yung Shum

I prefer not to show the ocean how I feel deep down. I am very comfortable being close to boulders. Just when the sun starts to get close to me I find myself pulling away. I feel comfortable sharing my private thoughts and feelings with the hydrangea. I tell the hydrangea just about everything. For example: I do not often worry about being abandoned — I worry about being alone. I need a lot of reassurance that I am alive.

If I can’t even get the grass to show interest in me, I get upset or angry. Sometimes I feel that I am forcing the grass to show more feeling, more commitment. On the other hand, I get uncomfortable when any insect wants to be very close. I don’t mind turning to the internet for comfort, advice, or help. When romantic partners disapprove of me, I feel really bad for them. Some pet peeves: I resent it when the morning spends time away from me. I get frustrated if water is not available when we need it. I worry that the hydrangea won’t care about rain as much as I do.

What I wish: that your feelings for me are as strong as my feelings for the hydrangea. I want to get close to an insect, but I keep pulling back. My desire to be very close sometimes scares my common sense away. But I don’t worry a fair amount about losing my common sense — we all occasionally feel at odds with ourselves. And I think in times of need, it helps to be completely uncertain.


Michael Shou-Yung Shum is currently a PhD candidate in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Tennessee. His most recent work appears in The Writer’s Chronicle, Midwestern Gothic, and The Doctor TJ Eckleburg Review.