I remember that time I held my mother’s hand
led her across the parkland temporarily blinded,
her infected conjunctiva spindly red;
burst open veins squirrelled about her white
opal hemisphere or sclera, her iris brown green
with a lint of gold, or hazel bewitchment.
Scared of leading her all the way to the doctor
only six years old, or thereabouts, past the play equipment
where the cross-dressed bearded man sat
drinking methylated spirits, rocking her pram
with a white poodle in it, across the busy road,
past the veterinary clinic. My mother’s
cyclopean tortoiseshells impressed me,
those oversized glasses she wore protected her
from the suns glare and gave me hope –
to go beyond the narrow confines of suburbia,
the peerless dull brick veneer houses, not as
Howard Arkley depicted, no neon splashes of colour,
or floral embellishments, only uniformity,
boxed gardens, concrete drives, fenceless plots.
My mother loved to dress up, to present herself
to the world everyday as if she were dressing for paradise.
Her expensive French silk scarves, gangster-like
gold ropes around her neck, diamond rings, fur coats.
Her mother dressed up too, sewed her own clothes,
put elegant outfits together. Perhaps,
in the spirit of Frida Kahlo who awoke everyday
to dress with such festivity, mythopoeic flair, so as
to face the divine with her chin up despite persistent pain.
My mother’s pain is like a temporary blindness,
it comes over her, she retreats into herself, goes
searching within herself for her-self-lost. This morning
I woke up with my lids stuck together, lashes-laced,
encrusted with gound from infection. From time to time
I go blind. But, I have one weapon against the dark,
a cutlass with which to sharpen myself, I wake every day
bare-skinned as a Phoebe and I dress for paradise.
- 99: BROWNFACESUBMIT NOW with W S Dunn 98: SINGAPORECOMING SOON with A Pang and J Ip 97: 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