people are packed closer here
but that means I can finally hear
the thumping of foreign hearts
as they jostle – collide, fumble – thrive,
and how wonderful it is to be able to breathe
as winter’s last bouts of rain
washes my deluded expectations clean.
(oh, and you know what?
I have begun to appreciate
my daily dose of intimacy
on crowded trams,
as they crawl up swanston street.)
there is more distance here
but the ones I love are forever intertwined
in the chords of my apple earphones.
I complain about 6pm traffic every day
forgetting when the rush hour noises
faded into a familiar hum.
her footsteps echo through
another nameless tunnel
in this concrete maze,
all the lost ones, left searching.
the train rumbles above
towards its destination,
as inevitability echoes around
the thought of destiny, it ricochets
in her shaking fingertips
passing through flesh, bubbling blood
sinking into brittle bone but doesn’t quite
pierce the soul, she is so afraid of others
but also the dark, of herself,
and of death, leaving no mark.
nobody is born a voyeur
but life told her she is not a voyager –
so what else can she do but wrap the strands
of strange, perfect lives around her like
golden silks embedded with ruby stories
pretend to be the empress in her
borrowed robes, she quieten the child
who wants to shatter these delusions,
and let the rainbow light dance off her skeletons –
what to be when waking feels like being asleep,
nothing to see but these false and wonderful dreams.
I learnt my first 儿歌 over a
long-distance phone call as 妈妈
sat under the southern cross,
halfway around the world.
she sang about 一闪一闪的
小星星and I wonder if she
ever wished upon these flickering
lights to 再次 share the same sky
with the mother and daughter
she was forced to leave behind.
almost two decades later,
three generations 团聚在,
the same roof 下, but my
memories of 金色的 stars
cast across 陌生的 sunset
have become hazy, even
in slumber, my anglicised tongue
has become better at tying
knots into cherry stems than
imitating my grandmother’s songs.
one day, a lonely boy
builds a dingy raft
out of empty vodka bottles
and sets out to sea, so he
does not have to see
straight, ever again.
he prays for merciless waves to
crash and roar, overwhelm the silence
of strangers on the shore too afraid of
getting their toes wet, he wants to drown out
the whispers of wayward ghosts luring
him into the murky depths of despair.
maybe the wind can carry his listless
body to shore or at worst salt-water can
hug his lungs and sting the open wounds
of his heart like hickeys or lighting,
forecasting the long overdue iris rain.