Goh Li Sian
on the day of the solar eclipse
we drove out into the long dawn
of a muddied sun shining weakly,
a sleep-shrugged sky
from behind sunshades:
grey smears of birds, leaves, sky
I don’t know if my silence did you a discourtesy
as we sped past the canal
where they drove into the water
and you spoke of your difficult husband
mean, unhappy, sick
uncharitably, I suspected you of dramatising
as you claimed your daughter’s marriage
was falling apart – still, I kept my peace
as we went down the one-way street
waiting for the fog to lift
like a catch of the breath,
the click of the car door releasing.
An English Romance
Yes, I’ll admit it’s true – you can only sum up
all the parts of a romance for a reckoning,
when it’s dead and done as an old dog
one you had so much affection for.
And all I remember now are the flickering images,
palette fading cobalt and other deep shades to pastels,
the piano tinkling only softly, “Do you remember?”
Lingering expensively over countless cups of tea
in the cool calm air of Bloomsbury, deep blue
and still as the sea where we took a summer holiday,
or lolling about in rich green grassy parks,
in one’s yellowing memory it is always summer.
But also what do you make of these days gone,
outside kebab shops, in little pizza joints,
the darkness of the long tread home after
getting off the night bus from the Prince Charles Cinema?
special treats you invariably forked out for,
expenses you may now resent.
Still never would you do those sums
Free as you were with your pennies
Withholding only affections. And then after
The accountable silences, excusable treacheries.
Your fingers tasted of saltwater, cherries, meat,
everything I’d dreamed of as a young virgin
but we know dreams themselves have no savour.
Waking, I found you by the white shore
gazing into the horizon as if you’d claim the light
that came stealing across it in bars as the teal waves
raced and closed further in, higher and lower,
galloping like the wild ponies we saw once, as if they’d
never stop till they reached the cove, tossed their manes.
Broke like foam under your curious touch.
only then would we watch sunset
sink in and stain our skin
as we sucked our fingers to taste their rosy glow
Goh Li Sian has been published in The Toast (RIP) and The Billfold, and a handful of university poetry anthologies. More voracious reader than diligent writer, she enjoys film, bicycles, and social justice movements. She can be found on Twitter here.