Cyril Wong

Nationbuilding: Haiku for Leaving



Our semen puddling
on the floor. “Look, Singapore!”
I moan, wanting more.

Country, family –
words, just words, when we recall
they keep failing us.

The law outlaws us;
majority rules. Still, hope
frames our photograph.

“K. L., Toronto,
Taiwan, Bangkok – anywhere
else freer than here.”

Our merging bodies
on the bed; peninsular
withstanding the sea.

We talk of leaving
but never go. Night inclines
us to each other.

There are other laws:
inertia, old age... Pale moon
passes no judgement.

“By failing us, this
nation has married us.” “Home
persists when we do.”

We’ve built a nation
of unspectacular peace;
island of our hands.

Other laws: death waits
to complete the picture. One
leaves, then the other.

“Let’s say farewell now,
so we won’t have to say it
when the stars claim us.”

Cyril Wong

Cyril Wong is the author of poetry collections such as Unmarked Treasure, Tilting Our Plates to Catch the Light, The Dictator’s Eyebrow and After You. A past recipient of the National Arts Council’s Young Artist Award for Literature and the Singapore Literature Prize, he completed his doctoral degree in English Literature at the National University of Singapore in 2012. His poems have been anthologised in Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond (W. W. Norton 2008) and Chinese Erotic Poems (Everyman’s Library 2007).