Category Archives: Walks

Separation 

    

“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) 

Rain City

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I spent the early part of the afternoon after my paper sitting on some concrete steps in a shopping centre, nibbling a taiyaki ice cream. The place was cavernous, deep-based and high-ceilinged, with a gaping entranceway sealed with a screen of rain.

A fantastic lightning storm was going on outside by the time I decided to head home. On the way to the train platform I stopped to look over the canal, with its gushing torrents of brown water. I watched a bottle get stuck, hitting against the slope of the channel repeatedly before finally being washed rapidly downstream. A yellow construction worker’s hat came by, floating like an overturned turtle shell, slowly sinking beneath the surface as water splashed over its edges. And that’s life, I thought to myself. I took in a deep breath as a cool breeze blew in my face.

Getting off the train, I walked by the street to the bus stop, feeling the white spray against my ankles and my face, like a million tiny crystallized butterfly souls. Reflected in the rain were the vague colours of quiet and disquiet, the orange of windows and the reds and greens of traffic. I imagined behind its screen a thousand butterflies hiding sleepily in secret places – Little gems of confidence, roosting quietly in every corner.

 

Quiet

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The river in the morning – it surprised me as I emerged from the cool, shadowy interior of the Esplanade and met with the river bay. The water is different in the morning light. In the softness of it, one can take in the whole expanse of the water at once – wide and shimmering, blue and clear.

The Starbucks at the Boathouse was empty and smelled of wood and rope and coffee. The past few days I have begun to feel a little more right with the world – I’m better able to keep calm and curb my unproductive hyper-analyses, and I feel like less of a stranger to myself.

Tomorrow we begin our papers. We’ll grasp with our hands those fragile structures of words we call rules, watch the way they come together and fall apart when faced with the irony and whimsy of daily life. And I’ll think of the way thoughts drift through our minds, each one as delicate as a snowflake in its random beauty. Think of the way it can overwhelm when out of control, in torrents of white.

Tread softly, softly, through words, through thought, through the little worlds you move through by the push and pull of language. And always, stay bright.

All this light

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There was so much gold beyond the veranda today, it made me ache to be outside. I walked a short distance down the road, feeling dwarfed by the trees. It would only be for a short while. These days it does not rain, but somehow the air is always cool. There’s something about the transience of the light and the coolness of the air on my skin that has made the days seem so surreal. I felt immediately soothed, walking and breathing and looking up to the bright sky beyond the high, heavy branches of trees.

It’s a painfully bright world, one that keeps spinning on. Most days I just don’t know how to feel my place in it. There is no substance or form to my thoughts and feelings these days, unsettling though they may be. They whistle through my mind like the wind in the leaves. And often I just feel deeply tired inside. The world is big and golden and there, yet I have nothing to grab hold of, nowhere to find rest. The days, they slowly warm me, and also make me shiver with every breath.