from The Shape of a Body Uncertain
Once, it was written that there
was a man who slipped onto a ship
and sailed off the edge.
When the monsoon lash returned him,
the man spoke of a sticky that pressed.
The man could not eat the cooked.
The man spoke to silence.
And of the most,
the man was blind to she
with the heaven-scented feet.
It was written that she cursed the man
to stone in the tropics, iced her son
ibarat kacang, kaleidoscoping, (Pihak
±5.67 calories), irgendwo auf der Welt,
Fries-Frau, frequently identifying as Melayu,
but at one point when Judith says
her house is slick
describes herself as Arab,
orang Melayu malas
bukan macam orang Arab,
ibarat die Frau am das Visayanischen
Ufer spreche Jerman und Englisch mit Deutsch
accent—aber Haben Sie Malaischen Familienname?
All she said when she called was:
She is no more.
She is no more.
The sun was gone.
And who knows what I was at the time.
She told me once
that if one goes the way She went,
in the pursuit of knowledge,
then one will arrive at the Gate
without question. Given the fact
we are to say And it is we who are His
and to Him are we returned we are demanded
demanded to sink the body and weep
only to dampen the top
but all I heard was Come.
Please. Can you please come.
But what hewed the body while it was out there?
It was written that boys were found in sliced peaches
but it was also written that women sprang from skulls.
In this case shall we then say the son began
as cut fruit browning in a fridge?
Was it that the relentless decay of the tropics
scattered the son, now stone?
And was his return the end of a recognised starving,
in anticipation for what was to come?
We are legislation
worked out to tighten the loosening
here and elsewhere.
How did anyone expect a woman
to search the papers and place
her mother’s body
into the line? Is that relevant
it was said, but it was also said
and over you are those who bear witness,
the noble, and the recording,
they know every deed.
It was recited before it was written.
A Chinese account says
they make rafts of trees bound together,
and build houses on the water
and if fire was detected
each owner cuts the cables,
floats away and then ties up elsewhere
far from the conflagration.
So it is with water and the stone,
with policy and the bonsai,
with luck and the one-dollar talisman,
with island and the mush skyline,
with bite and the leash against the living.
Hamid Roslan —is the author of the Singapore Literature Prize-nominated parsetreeforestfire (Ethos Books, 2019). His other writing can be found in the Asian American Writers Workshop, Asymptote, The Volta, Of Zoos, and the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, and is forthcoming in the Practice, Research and Tangential Activities (PR&TA) open-access journal, and Tilted Axis Press. He is currently pursuing an MFA in Writing at Pratt Institute.