“For what separates dawn from dusk is day
And what separates joss from ash is respect
And what separates you from me is time
And if you lose even the memories
Then we will truly be apart”
– from Separation by Daren Shiau
I remember that twilight hour. I had emerged from a small bookstore where I had been browsing through Daren Shaiu’s Peninsula whilst broodily negotiating an online sale. It had been a long day. Earlier I had walked through the bright green compound of Dempsey Hill visiting art galleries, along the way stumbling upon big wire cages full of noisy parrots and a dreamy green pond with fishes the size of small sharks. I had a difficult time in Anna Berezovskaya’s exhibit. It was all so beautiful and whimsical and other-worldly, yet I struggled to immerse myself in it fully because I couldn’t stop wrestling with myself in my mind. The second exhibit (Zhu Yan Chun’s The Substance Series) returned me to mountain paths and natural pigments, and I breathed easier.
[The day’s clippings]
In the glow of early evening the meandering lanes of Duxton road had me scaling a hill and passing the entrance to a small park where I met a big cat, a miniature tiger-like creature.
I lingered a while in Monica Duxton’s exhibit- A Universal Truth, feeling soothed by light and space. When I stepped out to wander again, I looked at all the corridors and windows a little differently. A universal truth indeed. I also felt curiously tempted to get a drink, after a long period of ambivalence to alcohol.
Stepping out of the bookstore, I walked past shophouses to the main road which was lined with cars making their way home from the city. I felt very subdued, and a little bothered inside.
Across the road was a set of flats. Rows of disorderly bamboo laundry poles stuck out from stacks and stacks of faintly glowing squarish windows. Behind them, the dramatic silvery towers of a newer housing development jutted out like a swords. Pattern and juxtaposition. This is also poetry, I thought to myself. The mixture of lights and street sounds left me mellow and dreamy, and I felt myself suspended, like the light in the sky, between darkness and day.
After a long train ride I would arrive home, where I would make myself very upset with my verbal blunders, overanalyse the transaction I had earlier completed, attempt to clean my room, annoy those around me, and end up feeling very hurt and trapped and childish and taken advantage of.
I’m not sure how the evening ended. But once again the night would have come, dark and cool, closing the day and dividing it from the next. It used to bother me terribly, the way one day did not flow smoothly into the next like verses in a song do. It often felt like someone was taking a scissors and cutting each day and each moment off from the next.
In the end, I am not quite sure how to end the telling of this story. Perhaps I shall simply allow it to retire, close this pandora’s box of memory, creep beneath the covers. The words of Alvin Pang float to mind:
“Let waking divide
this day in which you walk
from the past
which already is less
than whisper, fainter
than a breath’s caress.”
“Make space with your words
so those who come after
may hear their own voices
in your silence, deepening.”
(From a poet is instructed by the death of his master)