Cyril Wong is the author of The Lover’s Inventory, and other works of poetry and fiction in Singapore.
Ben Lerner writes in The Hatred of Poetry,
“Everybody can write a poem,” and asks if
“the distillation of your innermost being …
[can] make a readership, however small, a People …?”
Maybe because I’m not American
or because I was never a Universalist,
I’ve always thought, “Of course not!”
I write for you (as you watch your action-movie
beside me on a plane drifting through turbulence)
but more likely for me—or the infinity within me/us
that doesn’t toss, swell or shrink beyond
the vicissitudes of self, the words we tell ourselves.
What is the word that means
an existence of looking
both inwardly—without judgment
or desire to derive absolute sense—
towards an unfolding profundity,
and outwardly from somewhere
beneath the surface of our bodies
at every word, gesture and
reciprocity passing for time, all
without feeling divided, absent,
sorrowful or benumbed?
We think about moving to Malaysia
when we have enough money
or when we run out of excuses.
Anywhere freer than Singapore.
Not freer, but across the causeway
we could disappear in that hinterland
that isn’t an island; that is vast enough.
We talk of leaving but never go.
Night inclines us to each other.
Two homosexuals in a possibly more
conservative country—the irony.
Or maybe not at all ironic, since
being invisible is what we’re used to
and now it could be an advantage.
Yes, the irony. No hope of changing
society; instead we pick a Malaccan
condo beside a hospital, as healthcare
is important in our old age. Imagine
that: we might die together
far from here, when our home here
shades into a dream we might finally
depart, before waking up together
inside a better dream. Our merging
bodies on the bed; peninsula
withstanding the sea.