Ann Ang’s poetry, fiction and non-fiction have appeared in Eclectica Magazine, the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore (QLRS), Poskod, Kartika Review, The Common and elsewhere. Her first collection of short stories, titled Bang My Car (Math Paper Press, 2012), was launched at the Singapore Writers’ Festival 2012. An avid birdwatcher, she is an educator at the Academy of Singapore Teachers.
Jie, you complain you are sixty,
but I’ll never beat you at being old.
In Primary Four, you were in Sec Two—
Taller, your studious silences like Sumatran haze.
You did my homework because it was right
to prove that my centre parting and fondness for kueh,
were really yours. Mama caned you
for having Pontianak-red nails.
That was a better kind of love.
You got angry, grew up into being beautiful.
Now people call you by your name.
Days pass the way we crack gingko nuts,
chalky cracked shell under bleeding nails:
you leaving the house keys, a new fridge.
My years were kernel and sap;
husband and children. Yours: a Mini Cooper,
a scarf and a tin of biscuits you returned,
dropping by for five minutes. “So much trouble,
give the kids eat. Singapore is so hot.”
“No one asked you, what,” you didn’t say.
So this is how we grow old together:
I’m wondering if you need spring cleaning,
more vitamins. Your left knee is gone;
you’ll die alone from leukaemia.
But I have grand-children.
The days filter through the rain trees,
hot humid light. You do nothing,
so time does not pass.
You say, “Don’t need, don’t bother,”
alone with the stories you believe about yourself.