Poetry / June 2014 (Issue 24)

What We Can See From Our Windows

by Tjoa Shze Hui

In 1953, Singapore's colonial government passed a White Paper requiring schools to use English, instead of Mandarin, as a medium of instruction.

In school we say moon,

a clean curve of sound.
     Mere lick of light, tapering neatly
                   to sharp-tipped

But at home we say yueh: two
creamy syllables slurred and deigning
at first to the same pouting ooze, till
tidal habit, dragging down the
wave of our tongues, reveals

an orb

of luminous fruit in the dark,
blossoming full in our mouths.
(it is the yueh we let into our rooms,
in spite of what we’ve been told).
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