Contributors / December 2016 (Issue 34)


by Bernice Chauly

Vindula dejone erotella
Delias oraia
Urania leilus
Grapium sarpedon
Appias nero figulina

I repeat the names of common Malayan butterflies
from the book that used to be on the long white shelf
in our house in Taiping, where my memories begin

I fear I will never recover
I know this kind of love begins and ends with flowers
not words, not alcohol, not tears
not even sadness

I am tired of the earth
I remember catching butterflies – they lived
for a while in tall glass bottles and once, a green Milo tin
slowly their wings faded and turned
into mellow dust, collecting mites
like unwelcome strangers
into a dark world

I remember the orange and brown bedcover
prickly to the touch, my green pinafore and sunflower curtains
Ah Kong standing in his white shorts
wondering where you are –
it has been forty years, since you left me
a child crying by the shattering sea –
I fear I have never recovered

I think I have outstayed my time
unlike you, there is no more mourning
there is no more darkening of the sky, of the
liver, throat and spleen, of in-between coloured boats
that ferry nightly metaphors to sweet darling madness

the birds and cicadas are asleep
the floods are gone
but the butterflies –
they still lie
awake, in
the garden.
/// Source ///
 Bernice Chauly is a Malaysian writer, poet, educator and Director of the George Town Literary Festival. She is the author of five books of poetry and prose which include the award-winning memoir Growing Up With Ghosts (2011) and her critically acclaimed third collection of poems, Onkalo (2013). For over twenty years she worked as a multidisciplinary artist and is recognised as one of the most significant voices of her generation. She is an Honorary Fellow in Writing from the University of Iowa's International Writing Program (IWP 2014) and currently teaches creative writing at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus. Her upcoming novel will be published by Epigram Books in 2017. Visit her website for more information. (Photo credit: Daniel Adams)
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