by Faith Leong | 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
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
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
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.