Childhood, family, love, memory

To be three

They say you don’t remember
Anything before the age of four.
Don’t remember that thumb
jammed in the door,
Don’t remember that tooth
Chipped on the floor,
Don’t remember tantrums
In the toy store,

Don’t remember your mom’s
Sleepless nights,
Don’t remember your dad’s
Tired sighs,
Don’t remember your brother’s
Protective lies.

You won’t remember the castles
Built of pillows for stone,
The snowmen made of clothes
Carelessly thrown,
You won’t remember being tucked up
Late at night,
You won’t remember the first time
You said goodnight.

But we do.

With love, your family.
Happy Birthday, dear Sophie.

love, Poetry, Politics

Moving parts

We make plans.

Enter into
………. contracts, marriages, mortgages.
Look up weather forecasts
………. for the week, the month, the year
when our city will be six feet
under water.

We make telescopes
………. to see stars already dead,
We read horoscopes
………. to see futures all ready made.
We have children
………. to see what cannot be said.

We make plans.

 

Background:

Singapore is really big on plans. We plan time and space ever so finely, trying to cater for every eventuality, cover every position, hedge every bet.

It’s something you see right from the moment you step out of the aerobridge at Changi Airport: a cold, clinical obsession with the best laid plans.

On the surface, it’s great – almost everything works and runs on time. On the rare (although slowly increasing) occasion when there are failures, it’s because (pesky, frail, human) humans didn’t stick to the plan.

We fancy we’ve gotten so good at planning that we even use a lack of planning as a reason to justify poverty and income inequality, (ironically, this article is behind a paywall as it is labelled by the Straits Times as a “Premium Story”).

There’s a timeline for everything, from birth to death, to keep the wheels turning. Keep up the pace and stick to the plan – you will have a reasonably safe existence.

But there is just one tiny, nagging little problem.

We make our plans based on the past prejudices, on what what has happened rather than what we want to happen. We make our plans on what we want to avoid rather than what we want to achieve. And in doing so, we make our future small.

Yet, enough of us are content to pace this treadmill, blinkers on, banking our futures on the past.

 

family, love, Poetry

intermission

Tomorrow, you were supposed to be
dressed in a smart, new uniform,
spiffy shoes, ready for the first
day in school. But you aren’t
ready. Certified.

Today, I tried to hug you,
cradle you. Awkwardly you let me
hold you, made yourself smaller
to fit my fears.

Tonight, you mutter in your sleep
words unknown. I look across
the dark and wonder if you know,
will ever know, how much we

worry.

“How long is the intermission?”

Kiefer on the train

Background

I wrote this poem on the 2nd of January 2018. TheĀ 3rd of January was the first day of school for all children turning seven that year. For most parents in Singapore, it’s a special day, often marked by Facebook updates of their not-so-little ones in their spiffy, slightly oversized, school uniforms trundling off to school and the wide blue yonder.

My son was supposed to be one of them, but the doctors had advised he spend an additional year in pre-school and early intervention. My son is on the autism spectrum.

I wrote this because I worry, as I think all parents of special needs children worry, about how my son will take care of himself and make his way in a world that sometimes seems ever more cruel, intolerant and unjust.

And I have no answers.

Just hope.

A hope that I see in how he takes of his little sister.
Protects her at the playground.
Tugs at our arms when she decides to wander off on her adventures.
Cries when he sees her in pain or distress.
Comforts her even though he doesn’t always have the words.

kiefer and sophie

And that is enough.

Childhood, family, love, Poetry

In descending order

A telomere

Life

is a region of repetitive nucleotide sequences

is a repetitive sequence

at each end of a chromosome,

at each end,

which protects the end of the chromosome

which protects some

from deterioration or from fusion

from deterioration

with neighbouring chromosomes.

when it’s time to go,

“I before you, except after she.”

I’ll miss you.

 

Background:

Having a child is one of the greatest gifts a person could ever receive. It is a profound and amazing way of experiencing love, trust and sleep deprivation.

I wrote this poem thinking of the two little monsters at home; and how weak, fallible and mortal they make me feel.

Sophie and Kiefer hug.jpg