after S. Erin Batiste
the bulbuls return again. for as long as i can remember,
they've lived here—this same square patch of land. in our front yard,
they build a nest. and because they mean no harm,
even lending to the vibrancy of our district, we let them be.
on the hotter days, they dance. their wings flitter and raise droplets of still
water in our plasticated pseudo-pond. bathed in sun-slicked sweat,
i watch them, mesmerised by their play. i wonder if it matters that their chosen world
is a fabricated island. one day, their nest falls from height.
mercifully, we are there—and we help, hoping to safeguard
the monogamous songbirds in this ecosystem we are now used to.
like the bulbuls, my parents have elected an enclave. each time,
they return to their familiar comforts. their journeys away
always ending with them back together at the start. my last attempt
at home-building in a foreign city, too, was a rotary affair:
back in singapore, my parents pick me up from the airport. alone, i clutch my mom
from the backseat and wash the back of her headrest in my tears.
my parents have had years and years to choose, but they always
picked the same thing. i wait as the sun rises into another sultry day,
for the bulbuls to come back around. this time, maybe, i will let them teach me
how to come back home.
By Rachel Kuanneng LeeQLRS Vol. 19 No. 1 Jan 2020