Speaking For My Father
My wife and I sipped creme brulee latte on the
staged jetty, defying the dark sky which crushed
the ribbon sea into rising troughs, and when we
ran the rain knifed the tourist sampans that
tossed about like ants in a bathroom. Jeremy was
with us. And maybe it was because father
died in raw December. When we leapt over
puddles there was a glimpse of him, the one
whose dialect was the crackled bones
of crows not even my dead mother could lift
into the sky. My son was eight, our rockstar He-Man.
Let it be that his eyes never echo those woody ovals
in his grandfather's. Let him kiss the rain.
What had he to do with this? I could father
him just as my father fathered me, the
one whose downwind heart sank in a
junk, and everything teetered on the plank
he crossed. What was it like to die a life for another?
I do not ask except in memory of dust now,
as a story of his life in my language when
my son is curious. As the bus stop sheltered us,
the heavy clouds parted for the sun's certainty;
it fell full on buildings like pillars of another new sky.
What could I tell my son? "I am here with you
because of the lonely and faceless," or "Did you
know Fullerton was a post office?" If this hotel's
waxen walls turned museum sepia, or lithographs
and salt print in survived art, there remained an
incoherence of sacks of shipwrecked letters.
I learnt from him his letters never arrived when
war singed the South China Sea. Now, Jeremy's
odd Chinese eyes, my eyes: why should I find
any reason of absence in them? Maybe, the time of
hard questions had passed. Our tales and poems
could not fit their letters. Maybe, even before
the beginning, they were exiled to wide unknowing seas.
By Jeremy Lim Mun Loong
QLRS Vol. 2 No. 4 Jul 2003