He stood in the middle of the aisle, eyes cast down
and closed, as if asleep, but swaying
as if a rhythm inside had taken over
the aged body, and the body was listening
as it had never listened before:
Do not… Do not… The spell
seemed to be working.
He was surrounded by breaths
of which his own was or had become
a forgotten detail
on the face of a weathered advert
no one was curious to look at anymore.
Others stood or shifted
their belongings, from one shoulder to the other
or continued to shamble
towards their own space of comfort
if and whenever such a space was cleared.
She thought of the past
events of this day
that had almost arrived at its close:
Jay at the office
surprised everyone with a striped
pink shirt from Alain Figaret
which he bought at the sales, and she thought, we all thought we knew…
The new boy at the sandwich bar
took only one attempt
to get her low-fat order right, which was a relief.
Margaret's jacket was fraying at the hem, what a pity; Cecilia at the boutique
would be glad to help her out.
Why didn't he call today?
I will not call him today.
He has his reasons, probably; and he needs those reports
before lunch tomorrow,
so I must hurry when I'm home.
She sat through the journey not noticing
the blank canvas of bodies and breaths, of trousers and skirts,
of heels and leather shoes, jeans and iPods, the occasional
shopping bag, the undistinguished laptop carriers; not noticing if exhaustion
was seated there, on her thighs
like a child who refused to listen
no matter how many promises had been made.
Next station: Yishun.
Dear passengers, if you see any suspicious person or article…
The critics are, once again, merciless
to the things that do not matter as much: the past
history of abuse and, as I page through the magazine, the latest scoop:
her silly idea of parenthood – she thought having another baby would make her
a better mother, just like that, like having another nose or eye job
which I know I can't afford –
Bob Marley: one good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain.
Through the headphones, Whitney's voice has begun scaling the high
-er notes of her heartbreaks, that have miraculously become my own and she
has never sounded
this stunning –
Doors are closing.
Next station: Woodlands. Dear passengers…
To make peace with the voids in my life (of silence, of love, of deep feelings
beyond mere bitterness) I sing your song and your praise in my head
so with you I am no longer here.
By Zhuang YisaQLRS Vol. 7 No. 3 Jul 2008