(Almost) Post-finals Poetry

By Gerrie Chua

When I Think (Oh It Terrifies Me)

Here’s how it goes—
When things happen,
They trigger two immediate reactions
One you allow the world to see
And another you desperately hide (bury)
Beneath the former
Along with your safely veiled vulnerability

Let’s start small, let’s start innocent—
Everyone shuns you
The first day of primary school
(Because I’m ugly? Because I’m different? Because I’m me?)
And here’s what you do:
You get through the day on your own
Friendless but indifferent (I don’t care)
Alone but independent (I’m not weak)
Even though inside you’re screaming
Let me cry let me cry let me cry

You grow up, everyone does—
You guard your emotions closely as you age
Learning how to survive in a society where only
The despicable, disgusting and dreadful reign
You listen to these people (my friends)
Mock the pariahs of high school,
Witness the abuse of these outcastes
And yet you only sit there, with a quiet (faux) smile
Even though inside you’re screaming (shamefully)
I’ve got to help them; I’ve got to help them
What happened to humanity? What happened to me?

Fast forward to an epiphany you’ll have one day—
Everyone will leave you (even the genuine ones)
It’s the simple way of a cruel world:
Change is our only constant
(How can I ever take comfort in that?)
Some days you realize this will be the last time
You’ll bid farewell to him (to her, to all of them)
Because their lives are changing (they’re leaving me)
So you plaster a Cheshire smile across your face
Exchange hugs, kisses, empty promises of keep in touch
Even though inside you’re screaming
Please, please don’t leave me 

Perhaps a day will come when—
You accept yourself for who you are (no more hiding)
You accept life (and its tiresome ways) as it is
And you accept how alone we are (truly)
Then you’d conclude that
Only my opinion matters in this world
So why hide behind all that (just to please everyone) when
Inside you’re also screaming
Why hide behind all that?
Let the illusion fall.

So here’s how it goes—
When things happen,
They trigger a single immediate reaction
(Grieving tears, sardonic smiles, turbulent tantrums)
One you allow the world to see
Along with a proud display of your vulnerability
Because this is who you are
(This is me.)

Weaving Wool

You fumble around trying to make my favourite one-egg soup
Will you get the ingredients right? One egg, of course, amidst many other things
A rich creamy broth enriched with yolk (but not the white, don’t forget that!)
Plus egg white whipped and deep fried into a crunchy, crumbly pillow fritter
I laugh because you are obviously bad (horrible? atrocious? a disaster!) at cooking
Since you fix people and not food. I drink in the scene with my eyes, tell myself
Every 21st of April I will commemorate when you first made one-egg soup for me.
It will probably taste bad (gross? disgusting?) but I will say it tastes amazing

The first time, I lose the house keys. (We brush it off like it’s nothing.)
The second, I forget to wear my glasses to work. (We laugh a lot at that one.)
The 3rd, I don’t crack the eggs before beating them. (You begin to wonder.)
The 4th, I forget to wish you Happy Birthday. (I hate myself. You worry.)
The fifth and 6th time happen when I am trying to find my favourite guitar
(Given to me by my father—wait no, my uncle) and you ask me what’s wrong
Because I am close to tears and I tell you I can’t remember what I was looking for

The doctor confirms it soon after but you don’t leave me (yet)
I clean the house to keep busy, and that’s when I find the album—
Photos of people I’ve never seen before so I ask you and you
Grin at me and tell me Nah I don’t know them because they’re your parents
but your smile is fake; your eyes give you away, they’re tearing up—and that’s
when I realize I’ve forgotten my own family. how soon till I forget You?
 
there are moments I wake You in the middle of the night
because I had forgotten what I was doing in the toilet
and I am always crying because why are You still letting me
burden You when all I am is a fading person? You tell me
You’re not going anywhere and i cling onto You—my only constant

and i can’t—i can’t stop unravelling and You start to
play from home because i can’t take care of myselves
tomorrow i crawl over to You on the table scared out
of my wits and ask You what’s my…what’s my name?

i don’t want to forget you, please i beg because
i remember my marriage vows: till death do
Us part but my mind is determined to lose You

just like how i lost my mother’s guitar and
one day i awake and look up at a stranger

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