Singapore-born Chow Teck Seng writes poetry primarily in Chinese. Frequently contributing to literary journals, anthologies and the Chinese press in Singapore and abroad, he has won awards such as the Singapore Literature Prize (2014) and Golden Point Award (2009). His poems in English translation are found in & Words: Poems Singapore and Beyond (2010), Union: 15 Years of Drunken Boat, 50 Years of Writing from Singapore (2015), SG Poems 2015–2016 and the online journal, Poetry at Sangum. They have also been adapted as short films by students of Lasalle College of the Arts in 2017. A former lecturer (in Chinese-language literature) at the National University of Singapore and National Institute of Education, he is currently pursuing a PhD at Cambridge University.
Entering/Exiting a Carpark
By Chow Teck Seng
The car keeps backing
into position, no return, no regret –
no longer possessing the shiny shards of youth.
The rocket has landed.
The memory has wandered off.
Plato, like a flyaway brolly.
The carpark frequently disguises itself as a full stop.
Habitually buckling up the seatbelt
preparing to enjoy a repetitive miniseries during the journey –
the wiping effect makes me think of this as a nostalgic film.
Premonition is a xeroxed sea.
Between the eyes, the needle of a compass.
Within that rear-view glance, finally a most familiar and mundane tenderness.
Not a dislocation, but unable to forget ever turning back.
So the carpark is also not a comma.
The next day, as well as the journey, will not repeat.
Streetlamps and the pulled handbrake softly inform you
that a car, stopping, is an unclear and naked semicolon.
The taillights and the sound of alighting footsteps
stitch up the misaligned scenes like garment seams.
The carpark, in the rain, is like the fleeing
happiness of a corpse that has just left the mortuary.
(Translation by Yong Shu Hoong)