these are all the things you are: careful, mild-mannered, careless, hands aligned neatly together such that the uneven beads lining your angular wrists make soft indents on your scarred skin. uncertain eyes raised towards the spring dawn from beneath the pale red umbrella, a small breath lost as you curl yourself into the damp palm of the bronze buddha and stretch a thin sheet of rice paper over yourself – lighting the match where your heart lies quietly.
yet stepping backwards into the dark exhibit in the corner of the street on the last day, this is all we have left: thirty-three pale reflections of the moon dotting the curl of your spine, overexposed photos of a thousand altar candles and symmetrical sketches of museum corridors – ground over two hundred and sixteen hours and packed into small teabags to be dropped into the insides of a handmade doll, sealed and preserved with blunt pieces of loose jade:
animate stories, significant names, beautiful writings and shared glances buried beneath sleepy grins, wide lensed portraits and the loud voices of women behind counters hard-selling displaced language and history.
sometimes we all like to pretend that we are infallible:
blessed with the ability to mould ourselves to concrete walls,
palms closing in on flimsy plastic and transparent sheets,
where cleavage furrows would form where our knees ended
when in fact we’re flawed, contemplative,
rusting cylinders of water,
dripping so that
we realise that we’re
no longer infallible, we’d re-
call ourselves strung over bus railings,
knees clicking halfway through the parking lot where it all
started, palms clammy and open, clambering for the small gaps
between the freshly painted wall and the old stairwell with cold
cement: long dried, tangible, clean and mostly, un-blessed.
five days since i began recognising
his double eyelids in the faces of
strangers, damp towels dripping
every plane and shadow beneath
the rim of my umbrella as i rub
the pads of my thumbs over its
contour and, soundlessly, erase.
start with a prayer. ride pillion into the sleepy
sunset. press dried flowers to closed
eyes. blow the candles out. see,
i’ve been told
i’m part burmese, wait
aren’t you indonesian?
my response lost beneath
we are incapable of keeping silent,
our hands shifting out of reverse,
loose fixes and joints no longer reliant
on soft and hazy physical alignment.
your last breath punctures in reverse,
but we are incapable of keeping silent.
we lack the right imagination, fervent
prayers and lighting of incense,
calculations reversed to keep us silent.
then you drained nitric acid through fluorescent
makeshift altar candles dropwise,
reversing the tips into an alkaline solvent –
and the filmy layer of effervescent
steam gas air breath closed your eyes
to uncertainties left out of context all too frequent.
we are all but a queer heartful of gas and yet,
there will be no lapses between our hands
when pressed firmly together, reliant
and a little more capable of keeping silent.
all things that fell
together apart into
each half-light, the selfsame
shade of blue extending along
tipping over the edges,
circling in coffee-filled bottles,
spiralling in the glare of
but think about
the lazy rain and our
lazier smiles smirks
scowls and hazy sighs –
or perhaps nothing