David Wong Hsien Ming
David Wong Hsien Ming was born in Singapore, discovered poetry as a child at a Sunday lunch and pursued honors in Philosophy at the University of Melbourne, reading poetry at Rutgers University New Brunswick along the way. His work has appeared in Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Ceriph, Eye to the Telescope, Unshod Quills, Literary Orphans, and earned an Honorable Mention in Singapore’s Golden Point Award 2011.
To take care of your mother
Undo the woman before you—
go back beyond your youth
in fact go back into yourself,
pretend your unbirth
and her unpregnancy;
pretend the unbloom
of every bougain villea
in the family garden
and the unbloom of that first flower,
your father whom she found
half-grown and half-sated;
the first white workshirt
she scrubbed and poured softener over,
unwash that too;
unwash the lies and half-apologies
and the times you attempted
to use barbed words for reconciliation
until a thick stain spreads
to the utmost walls of the home
making it a blackbox
of broken dishes
and set-aside dreams,
of soft bolts of joy
and love so often tasting of pain;
make this blackbox of now, your life
—and meet her in her girlhood.
It is night on your skin
where the needles swam.
Your body’s practiced betrayal
halves the venom’s speed today.
We have porridge for dinner again.
The swollen grain like flies’ eggs
hang together as we hang
together. I suppose in an older age
the eggs would have hatched and the maggots
would be weaning gratefully
on you, whom I kiss
with veils about my eyes.
The sheets that hold your sleep
ebb and flow and beg your case
to God who’s just about ready to—
look all I’m saying is
life does all the work
and we let death take all the credit.