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Shirley Geok-lin Lim

8 Nov

I’m presently in Singapore, and actually happened to visit the Edwin Thumboo exhibition at the National Library (more on that to come). Today I thought it might be good to introduce a poem written by an author with close Singapore connections. This is “My Father’s Sadness” by Shirley Geok-lin Lim.

“My Father’s Sadness”

My father’s sadness appears in my dreams.
His young body is dying of responsibility.
So many men and women march out of his mouth
each time he opens his heart for fullness,
he is shot down; so many men and women
like dragons’ teeth rising in the instance
of his lifetime. He is an oriental. He claims
paternity. But in his dreams he is a young body
with only his life before him.

My father’s sadness masks my face. It is hard
to see through his tears, his desires drum in my chest.
I tense like a young man with a full moon
and no woman in sight. My father broke
with each child, finer and finer, the clay
of his body crumbling to a drizzle of silicone
in the hour-glass. How hard it is
to be a father, a bull under the axle,
the mangrove netted by lianas, the host
perishing of its lavishness.