in my late grandmother’s voice
What sits from the centre of all things sits still –
unfurls, swings back lovingly, trembling slightly
out of time we die in. But know you’re full of
what we’re still made from –
Few don’t love as how I keep loving us still.
How you love me – others, too – did I teach you
love in spite of everyone? Love like ours should
outlive the planet.
Leaves scrape windows; stiff ash from smoking faces
lit at Mandai. I watched you watch me enter
you as winds died, leaves sifting, locking us in
together in place.
No place still good enough for ciphers like us.
Placeless places here on earth if we dare to
make them out of leaves and breath – place to start is
I was old and motherly, mostly to you –
grandson, best son, sun in the cloud of vapours
sorrow blew through all my life. (If I’m hackneyed
it’s because death is.)
If you write of how I’ve lived, I’d forgive you
if you get me slightly wrong. To forgive like
how I touched the sewn mouth of grandpa as he
froze in his coffin.
Men have treated me badly. You’ve loved badly –
don’t love like them, callously. You tell me you’re
trying. Your life isn’t the same as mine. Leave
bitterness to me.
Well-wrought safety, survival, misbegotten
truths here, thus that void only faith and fear fill –
Sappho speaks: In Lesbos, my sole concerns were
tenderness, pining –
Grandpa’s heart went flickering swiftly out. I
wish quick death for everyone. If you’re lucky,
you might sit so still that you slip free from your
Tumour like a sweet grenade bursting kindly –
Praise for ending misbelief, praise for being
mortal, praise for agony. Death is surely
opposite of time.
Things we strive for together – empty stillness
untamed, aerial vigilance. Leaves are questions
browning into answers that leave us doubtless
nothing must matter.
Thanks for love that I’ve stayed to give you freely
without being here at all – leaves still gather
at the window you open, frowning, hopeful
leaves aren’t all that’s left.
Cyril Wong is a poet and fictionist living in Singapore. His last poetry collection was The Lover's Inventory, published by Math Paper Press.