Archipelago

landscape shell on right

 

Excerpted–by Kim Cheng Boey

For years you hugged the coast, steering close

to the sense of loss, sounding out the landfall, the echoes

of inlets, beaches lapped by memory’s tides,

the vanished coves and mangroves, measuring

the geography of absence, earning the clutter skyline,

restoring the lost margins to the coast, to what it might have been,

as if mapping the meridian of yourself,

the routes that led you for the coast of forgetting to

this coast of remembering.

 

From coast to coast the lines of your life stretch

as between two poles, the one that repels you

and the one that draws you,

what has been and what is still possible,

two hands that gather, weave, braid, the strands

pulled taut, stretched to make a cat’s cradle

where lines of the past cross lines of the present, a ghostly

music in the wind, in the spectral gusts

that haunt the waters between two coasts.

 

Coast of the living and coast of the dead,

you never know which is which, the ocean

dreams between mixing up the voices, so that

you forget the passage, the crossing over,

where you start out from,

which coast wavered on the horizon of your leaving

and which rose to meet you int eh dawn

that looked like ending.

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