(After Topaz Winters’ ‘July’ and Samuel Caleb Wee’s ‘August’)
Bless the green hills & the robins
who sing at 8pm & the sheep
who flee the camera-wielding tourists.
Bless the lamb who become haggis & kebabs
that we masticate during the cold nights.
Bless the swaying grass in the gardens
that I keep calling the ang moh lalang,
the brick walls & white columns
& the black-veined marble we imitate
at home with plaster & paint. Bless how
“old” here means something to be kept so
bless every building torn down at home
for ours is a country with no time
for the past which is only sentiment
& still we make the Victorian buildings
by the river our heritage sites.
Bless the statues of white men we inter
on high, who when alive fled whenever the going
got tough & whose names we still use
as a mark of quality & perhaps this explains
the state of our nation today.
Bless every child who thought that
our country began in 1819 & who raged
against this tragedy of history after.
Bless the fictions in our textbooks that tell us
that peace make a country strong & bless
the ones who do not believe this.
Bless our government who feared the implosion
of elections around the world & decided
to make the correct choice for us & I cannot tell
sometimes if I am being sarcastic or not.
Bless the prince who did not know a lion
from a tiger from a fox because can you imagine
having a fox-fish as our national mascot?
Bless the great white merlions who guard our rivers
& who I still believe will one day descend down
from their posts with their laser eyes
& beat a tsunami with their fins
if those invading boats ever do come
& this time our guns will face the right way.
Bless every poet that has written about fall:
the air, the apples, the leaves,
the old man who sits on the chair
telling stories to the other months of year.
Or do I call it autumn in this country?
Because when young I learnt all the Englishes,
the difference between ‘z’ and ‘s’, the extra ‘u’,
but my mouth swells as I try to say
Worcester, Reading, Magdalen
& it feels as though my own mother tongue
has been stolen from me. Bless the actress
who practices Gloucester, Gloucester
to herself before a mirror. Bless the mother
who told her child to study hard & get scholarship
& go study at Oxford. Bless the student
who made it to Oxford but had no idea what to study.
Bless the Singaporean at SingSoc booths in London
who remembers to talk to the students
who are not Chinese. Bless the Singaporeans
who tag #blessed when they upload their selfies
& mean it. Bless the Singaporeans who move
into rich autumns & wet winters & still think
of the endless summers as home.
Bless the Singaporeans who do not
but come back anyway. Continue reading “OCTOBER”