It was school vacation, my daughter skiing with her father,
my husband in board meetings,
mynah birds drumming on the window panes, autumn gifts,
my first ex. in a condo in Kuantan,
(true friendships don’t crowd us, they are not a phrasebook.)
But it was just the grief I felt in his apartment, a stopover,
sufficient to release claustrophobic
stanzas, one by one, a sorrow, unclenching into silence.
Shopping at East Coast Mall, the lap pool,
gymnasium, the trees peeling outside. I could call it respite—
forgiveness. I was at odds with bureaucracy, the clinics
who treat psychiatrics like offenders,
gagging them with psychotropic drugs, they surfaced,
gas-filled whales buoyed into my office
while Indonesian boats sank their cargo, politicians waged.
I could write more—hours spent with innocent refugees
tried by narrow halls, waiting for visas,
medical assessments or suicide. I could detail the security
frauds, bribery, Typhoid, children turned
in the hands of frustrated men like outdated dictionaries.
Or I could mention the Rohingya Burmese father of four
closing the door, in haste, unlocking
suitcases to scribble down their UNHCR-ID on the back
of some food coupon, the sound of a hose
filling buckets of water for the day’s quota, his exquisite wife.
Perhaps, I should confess how prohibited I felt, ferrying
back to a 5* hotel in evening’s pollution,
encrusted lights of traffic. I had no appetite for dinners,
swimming laps, late, without purpose.
Hibiscus swishes calmed my traitorous lungs— how I forgot
everything I knew.
- 96: NO THEME IXSUBMIT NOW with 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: AFRO AUSTRALIANwith 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