2012
Apr
27

Bukit Brown (a poem)

0

         bukit brown

 

i                       cheng meng

 

pre-cheng meng

the tombs well marked

not by colourful squares

not by fuming incense

but by uniform vertical

white stakes shafted

a bit to the left

little men in white

with blood colour numerals

hastily stenciled on

like condemned running dogs

 

ii                     634A

 

this is grave

to be marked by a used tyre

and untamed creepers

the only one with the suffix A

like an upstairs flat for lodgers

a relation of six three four

an oversight

 

iii                    till death

 

do we part

it had seem not

buried side by side

together even in death

when exhumed

are we in one jar or two

 

iv                     riders

 

the riders thank me

in sharp aussie nasal

as their horses clip-clop by

through ancestral homes

on their way to oblivion

 

v                      fairies

 

two fairies

one the moon the other the star

facing each other

on either side of eng neo

one slightly lilting

right arm raised sleeves flowed down

their almond shaped eyes

with mossy liner

cry

 

vi                     punjab

 

the sikh guards stand erect

wearing crimson turbans

bearing british army rifles

with dark brown handles

neither they nor the little white

dogs by their black boots

can stop the ravage of the

savage logic of progress

 

vii                    crouching

 

a  white tiger flanks the right

snarling or smiling

a green dragon on the left

exchanging anxious looks

 

 

viii                  jannie

 

peck neo ( jannie) lived to thirty nine

died in nineteen thirty three

her husband lived to seventy three

dying six years later

an acceptable math

in pre-war high society

 

ix                     come

 

i come to bukit brown today

quite quite out of the blue

my ancestors long exhumed

and trapped in jars

for those who will soon be

raised and put away

i rue

 

 (3 march 2012 )    

 

Copyright Madeleine Lee

Not to be reproduced without permission

 

Bio: madeleine lee is an investment manager who also writes poetry. she has published 5 volumes of poetry. she has been sweeping great grand relatives’ tombs there since she was a little kid.