Quarterly Literary Review Singapore
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Vol. 2 No. 1 Oct 2002

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China Doll

I know he only does all that for me out of Necessity.
It is raw, protective masculinity that drives him to, and no
He thinks he owes it to my femaleness that he has perfected
An art of accountability, the moral obligation and sense of duty
To make me smile and have a smoothed, easy life, at his
Never mind I am shortchanging him, he never believes in debts,
Only goodwill that I ought to be treated that way.

It is never in doubt he does what he does
Always, in the selfless name of a faceless community.
The Chinese make a sensible distinction between
Extravagance and Necessity, never the twain shall meet
And he is Chinese through and through.
Anything more would be a luxury he cannot afford
Which he may not bring himself to buy
Even if he could. We Chinese believe in saving
For a day that never comes.

I tell myself it is nothing special, he would have done
Exactly the same for anyone, at anywhere, during anytime,
I know him only too well.
He has learnt to live and love long enough
And not limit it to me. And I can only
Be lost and lucid in the lumpy understanding and acceptance
Of my own lowly lies that our bond is born out of need, and
Never covetous. Not the pure, aching wanting
That drains the life out of me and leaves me breathless
And flushed for air and then, some more.

He sometimes says I am addicted to the simple feeling of
                                                                          wanting, and
These days this is said with some sadness that gives a shine to
                                                                                  his face
But I don't think he means what I think he means.
We have reached a plateau where I can't take without guilt
And he can no longer give without anger.
I know his attachment towards me is waning.
Nothing lasts, not even brotherly ties, much less love.

He is gesturing to me now the importance of being voiceless
Because it shows our commitment towards each other without
Resorting to painful cliches that upset our chemistry, and that
Especially so, since I understand him that he is exempted
From all expressions. But how can I know if my interpretation
Of his silence is managed meaningfully
And authenticated without his help?
He is waiting, I read, to claim me as a sister, sexless and safe
For possession in the sterile community of ties and blood.
And this is not a bad thing.

I can want him so luxuriously and badly
Only because I am secure in the knowledge
He expects nothing of me.
I can feel and pretend to feel, so much more,
Of a shameless ardor and vulgar, virginal passion
Inspired by novels and novelty because
He stays insensitive to my unspoken demands.
I do not have to test my tenacity and trembling thoughts
Out in the wilderness of reality
To taste the timelessness of my barren tears
If he answers the affirmation of my fears.
I have nothing to lose by wanting freely.

Sometimes though, I feel I have wronged him
And I am the one who failed us.
I love him not enough to make him a Necessity
And he is just some frills I finger with care and curiosity
While I await restlessly for an Other
To make me the Chinese I look.

By Angeline Ang

QLRS Vol. 2 No. 1 Oct 2002


About Angeline Ang
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Return to Vol. 2 No. 1 Oct 2002

  Other Poems in this Issue

By Angeline Yap.

Chiang's Heat Stroke
By Gilbert Koh.

blue memories
By Stephen Pain.

Market Forces
By Goh Peng Fong.

By Aaron Lee.

A River
By Jerome Kugan.

How It Begins
By Jerome Kugan.

Other Things
By Alvin Pang.


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