Letter from Sungai Buloh | 숭아이 불로(Sungai Buloh)에서 온 편지

By | 22 May 2011

Emptying an urn half her size of mosquito
larvae and water, the architect’s Australian
wife tells me of her husbands sister’s suicide.

The family never speak of it; the Japanese
occupation of Singapore the need to keep
her inside – for fear of kidnap. Wrigglers
in their throes she returns the vessel to an

upright position. As I write it now, it is
the conflation of two separate events:
the emptying of an urn, a suicide. One

preceding the other by several days. Days
in which I attend the needs of the kampong
in which I am staying. The shutters closed
for the night, twenty four in all, the house

cat without a lizard’s gut to puncture
playfully penetrating my hand. She draws
little or no blood that I can sense, certainly

nothing has reached the page. Truth be told
I’m reeling still – from last Sunday’s storm,
I was warned against ‘making calls’ in such
apocalyptic circumstances. Some appliances

I have simply refused to turn back on…
P.S. An injured boar roams the property each day
at dusk, the sport and buckshot of adolescent

Malays, men the world over – his wound
localised, his temper not. I know better than
to aggravate that animal with my presence
and so write or lip-sync nightly some titanic

ballad the cat will un-requite. Wishing
you were here, wishing you weren’t here
the urn, the suicide – love: a conflation.

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