by | March 17, 2023


through the eye of this coffee shop,

schoolchildren crossing a bridge

glint off the glass, chattering.

thoughts caught up in little

more than the mundane, little


less than the ninth

birthday party we forget when we’re

twenty. fragments of pink cream

candles and faces of yesterday.


a Saturday sandcastle, matted sand

shells and a seawater moat

plastic green shovels and a turtle-shaped mould

adorned with twigs and the butterfly clip

they said I always wore.


a scene buried

in the yellowed photo albums

we take out every year.

finding out with every page

an old favourite shirt,

dad’s convocation and the clip-on earrings

we bought for the occasion.

were you really



feels like an eternity ago

we were riding bikes with

training wheels.


ice cream and scraped

knees and other undated memories.



age; shaking hands gripping

a swelling ravine. light streaming in

at the pane fades and stretches into night.

rings in a tree trunk, thickening

despite each weathered season of loss.


quickening steps on a pavement keep time

as branches blossom and snap into twigs

we remember plenteous firsts and few lasts:

of foggy mornings and late nights home,

hands met in passing.

reasons lost and found that led us to this –


with each year we notice the gaps,

shake our heads and say what a pity.

we forget too fast that

habit is a human trait.

inevitability, time’s last lover


banging on tonight’s closed door

asking to be heard out and forgiven yet



some nights

we convince ourselves

that we are exceptions: to achieve what the

Egyptians of old and modern science have failed.

this moment is a glass cabinet,

to lock us in this way, forever.



yesterday I took a shot and

felt it travel into the tight abyss

my sides clench into themselves.


today? I am already too old

to recount who, or when, or how

my body bears the memories:

a chipped nail,

the scar on my shin, tattoo on

my wrist, a birthmark.


my thoughts are bars

firm as my ribs

pinching spots into my skin.

locked, throat mid-swallow

I am shrinking

backbone blending

into a copy of myself

I cannot recognise.


the print of a ring.

the passing of a breath


on my skin

every scene lodged slightly

under my ribcage, dissolving

into blood and water.


little more than flesh,

my heart is an organ made of memory.


Words by Faith Leong. Art by Matthew Kurnia.