Poetry / June 2013 (Issue 21)

Por Por

by Chris Tse

First of all          the colour can be traced back to you
especially in those final hours           when the light appeared clearer           
and ready to explode from every surface        if only to prepare us
for the monochrome to come.                If only
darkness took its cue from us       stepping in only when our eyes
are ready to withdraw from sight.
Most of that Sunday was spent standing around or slumped
in dated hospital furniture                   curves and harsh fabrics
redolent of a period of pain           unfamiliar with modern aesthetics
an ache of acceptance pooling in our stomachs.
At your bedside            I could only think of not wanting
to be there           scolding myself            for not making the effort
to be at lunch the day before.      I was already beginning to recount
my lasts with you: mah-jong games, shopping trips, drives home.
Pained, you cried for help             and I learned the limit
to the comfort            a grandson can provide. Mere presence
is simply not enough.            The hardest decision that night
was whether we should stay or go       knowing full well           
either option would ultimately wreck our hearts.
History repeats         and once again it was Leight who told me
as he had many years ago        on the afternoon
of Ma Ma’s passing.
6 days before Christmas.
We all escorted you from your room. The nurses prepared us
for the labyrinthine journey          through the hospital’s whitewashed
corridors imbued in fluorescent light.        Those we passed turned
their faces away out of respect.      The ancient lift to the morgue cried             
at each floor.       Our pockets         became private graves
for what felt like an eternity of used tissues.
If I needed a sign to know you were still with us
then my favourite song          playing softly in the background
at the funeral home when we visited you        might’ve been it.
Words are useless. Names hold no weight.
Dates and numbers serve only to confuse.
Umbrellas opened and closed          in a silent shout
to usher you from the hearse to the crematorium.
I stood by your coffin           and promised you
your favourite lunch, to tell our newborn cousin stories about you.
Drive-through order: 20 Filet o’ Fish burgers
(no cheese) to takeaway        
It is in our nature to question        and resolve storms
that pass through            our summer days.
Now my eyes scan the crowds             for your cameo.
I have taken all I know about you
and held it close with clenched fists       too scared to drop it
from a great height                 or empty it from my memory
banks without measured care.   I’m taking my time, as you did
with us all,        to see beyond the grey          straight through
to wherever you are,   where there is always colour        
moving           and still.
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ISSN 1999-5032
All poems, stories and other contributions copyright to their respective authors unless otherwise noted.