Quarterly Literary Review Singapore
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Vol. 2 No. 4 Jul 2003

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The House After Her Death

After my mother's death, nothing has changed in the house.
Her portraits are still youthful, my four sisters are still intent on keeping
                                                                       the day tied to
its three stalwarts: coffee in the mornings, curcuma at midday, mint in
                                                                       the evenings.
At my family's place you do not need a watch or a timer;
it suffices to smell the scent to figure out the sun's location in the

Nothing has changed in the house, after my mother's death.
My sisters' hands are lost in tidying up the rooms that their five
                                                                       brothers have left behind
for new rooms in which their souls will never rest -
though they no longer sleep on mattresses stretched out on the floor,
no longer shiver like addicts while they wait for their morning tea and

After my mother's death, nothing has changed in the house.
Even when we look at Kawthar, our eldest sister, intent on keeping
                                                                       small things whole,
we only think that our mother hasn't left the house she built, sigh by
in a white coffin and a body eaten piece by piece
By cancer, for a graveyard that will hold the first dead of the family.

Nothing has changed in the house after my mother's death.
The day with its three degrees of latitude.
The tidy rooms awaiting her absent sons.
The endless marathon of my father race between his basin of ablution
                                                                       and the mosque.
The everlasting nostalgia for the happy days of our poverty.

Everything is still the same,
Except for that hand which turns the dust green.

Translated by Tahseen Alkhateeb and Leonard Schwartz

By Amjad Nasser

QLRS Vol. 2 No. 4 Jul 2003


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  Other Poems in this Issue

A Famosa (the gap)
By D.J. Huppatz.

Mosquito Wars
By Judith Huang.

By Vernyce Dannells.

the girl who could love you
By Alvin Pang.

Picture the Children
By Mani Rao.

Speaking For My Father
By Jeremy Lim Mun Loong.

By Grace Chua.

Total Recall
By Srinjay Chakravarti.

From Deadly Pollen
By Stephen Oliver.


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