The Hong Lim Suite: Pink Dot

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.)