Wong Phui Nam (b. 1935)
I. Day world
I wake to find the sun make crystalline
the city aglitter in its encircling bowl of glowing hills,
fire near and distant tree lines into emerald,
and, in the neighbouring ground of the cemetery
fused into clear glass, hatch quartz fires from bones
revealed in their nests of mortality. All have passed
into that dazzling darkness they cannot know.
It’s the eye of God, some say. In towers and mansions,
the beautiful rise from their mirrors as walking dead;
the famished, grown great in mouth and maw
from consuming the earth, gag through thin reeds for gorge;
and they dreamless fry under splintered boughs of light.
Grazing in a field of dreams, most do not look up
as the sun opens wide the abyss into our nether world.
Ay, there, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come…
I am overtaken by a dream of new country, yet old,
a moon-bright infinite crystal sky beyond
travail of falling into the chasm and thunder
of my sundering mortality; of the day-world
delusion breaking into the smoke and fires
riven by winds out of the wastes of my present end.
A sun, not of the dawn, not of the evening,
now clears all mortal hindrances and warms
the sky into a liquid red. Then it blackens,
deepens into oblivion. As spirit dawns,
I am still that I am not. Light morphs into angels
who turn furies tearing into my erstwhile heart
and liver, clawing over one another
to root out the joys of foolishness and bliss of ignorance.
by Wong Phui Nam
from An Acre of Day’s Glass: Collected Poems (2006)