Beginning another vigil
he regards the tentative sun
through a fragmented sky;
otherwise there is only greenness.
In the still quiet dawn
he downs a mug of tea,
leans his rifle against a tree
and now and then recalls his home
unearths another day.
He is far from his hamlet.

It was an unquestioning life,
tilling the stubborn land that defies
the controlling hand of man.
There was consolation, now he knows
the laughter of his child,
the softness of his wife
who yields to him at night.
So what if kingdoms topple?

His dream shakes the silent air.

He sees his home gutted in the sun,
he sees his wife, head blown off,
the body of his child strewn
among young stubble of padi.

For days he prowled that waste
unable to quell his hate.
How to mobilize that precise pain?

Time passes.
Now and then a recall of home:
she chants at night to their child
who smiles, remembering small mischiefs.
After losing them,
their absence remains.

He makes his fists into a power
fierce as one whose sinews
could manage the sun.

In the glare of the sun
the planes beautiful
like silver spears
come in an eddy of air.

Amongst battered tree trunks
his blood splatters
into uncanny flowers.

Over the gentle contour of hills
and the sea,
the happy young crew from afar
returns to the air.

by Goh Poh Seng
from Eyewitness (1976)


SELECTED POEMS: from "Lines From Batu Ferringhi" >