Crowds gather in Hong Lim Park, the voice
in Speaker’s Corner billowing out from under
pink umbrellas. Girls, Apollo handsome,
link their arms and cheer the megaphoned
speech; boys stamp their shoes to Western
pop beats, grinning porcelain pretty, their mothers
in tow and revelling in their gaiety. Policemen
line the borders plain-faced, watching gatherers swell
into a guava pink dot beneath the soup-warm
drops of rain; they separate the flowering
of the first male kiss and lead the culprits away.
The hissing crowd, dismayed, dissolve their circle,
decree in loud letter-shaped battalions, L-O-V-E.
Back in the tower block, Chinese throng the railings,
jeering the loving mass below with fire and
brimstone wording. I rise to go, pink dollars
in pocket, piety burning in my ears; I pass a female couple
queueing for the toilets by the stairs, bowing to a
Buddhist nun who hands them paper daisies, herself one
who knows too well, how hard enlightenment is won.
(First published in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, 2011.)