i have covered the mirrors
hung red banners on the door
salted the corners
burned the sage
painted the ceilings blue
sprayed holy water while
murmuring the catechisms
you taught me on bent knee
and open hard palms
all while drinking the ash water1
from the seedy priest at
the guan yin ma temple2
you would take me to
after sunday school
mother i have thrown away
all my childhood dolls
stuffed scissors and red thread
in every bag i own
stopped my ears each time i heard
my name called at night3
checked the pin on the banana tree4
left the bloodied pads out
whenever the unseen baby wailed5
hung a crucifix on the door
carry a yellow paper amulet
in my pocket still stained
from the priest’s bleeding tongue6
burned the joss sticks and paper
left your favourite food
in front of your altar
so mother when will you
stop knocking each night?
1 A Taoist practice is to burn a paper talisman, mix the ashes with water, and drink it in order to
imbibe the power of the talisman.
2 Guan Yin Ma is the Buddhist goddess of mercy
3 Pontianaks, a Malay vampiric female ghost, are thought to be afraid of scissors and sharp objects.
Red threads are given at Chinese funerals in order to prevent ghosts from following a person home.
4 Pontianaks are thought to live in banana trees. A way to control them is to hammer a pin onto the tree.
5 Toyols are the ghosts of aborted or miscarried babies who eat blood to survive.
6 Another Taoist practice.
- 100: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 99: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97 & 98: PROPAGANDACOMING SOON with M Breeze and S Groth 96: NO THEME IXwith M Gill and J Thayil 95: EARTHwith M Takolander 94: BAYTwith Z Hashem Beck 93: PEACHwith L Van, G Mouratidis, L Toong 92: NO THEME VIIIwith C Gaskin 91: MONSTERwith N Curnow 90: AFRICAN DIASPORAwith S Umar 89: DOMESTICwith N Harkin 88: TRANSQUEERwith S Barnes and Q Eades 87: DIFFICULTwith O Schwartz & H Isemonger 86: NO THEME VIIwith L Gorton 85: PHILIPPINESwith Mookie L and S Lua 84: SUBURBIAwith L Brown and N O'Reilly 83: MATHEMATICSwith F Hile 82: LANDwith J Stuart and J Gibian 81: NEW CARIBBEANwith V Lucien 80: NO THEME VIwith J Beveridge 57.1: EKPHRASTICwith C Atherton and P Hetherington 57: CONFESSIONwith K Glastonbury 56: EXPLODE with D Disney 55.1: DALIT / INDIGENOUSwith M Chakraborty and K MacCarter 55: FUTURE MACHINES with Bella Li 54: NO THEME V with F Wright and O Sakr 53.0: THE END with P Brown 52.0: TOIL with C Jenkins 51.1: UMAMI with L Davies and Lifted Brow 51.0: TRANSTASMAN with B Cassidy 50.0: NO THEME IV with J Tranter 49.1: A BRITISH / IRISH with M Hall and S Seita 49.0: OBSOLETE with T Ryan 48.1: CANADA with K MacCarter and S Rhodes 48.0: CONSTRAINT with C Wakeling 47.0: COLLABORATION with L Armand and H Lambert 46.1: MELBOURNE with M Farrell 46.0: NO THEME III with F Plunkett 45.0: SILENCE with J Owen 44.0: GONDWANALAND with D Motion 43.1: PUMPKIN with K MacCarter 43.0: MASQUE with A Vickery 42.0: NO THEME II with G Ryan 41.1: RATBAGGERY with D Hose 41.0: TRANSPACIFIC with J Rowe and M Nardone 40.1: INDONESIA with K MacCarter 40.0: INTERLOCUTOR with L Hart 39.1: GIBBERBIRD with S Gory 39.0: JACKPOT! with S Wagan Watson 38.0: SYDNEY with A Lorange 37.1: NEBRASKA with S Whalen 37.0: NO THEME! with A Wearne 36.0: ELECTRONICA with J Jones