Spring Festival 2013

‘Every year passes, and still the birds return.’
First day and Third Uncle says,
‘Raining liao, last year not like that.’
Spring, in his mind
is a static, sweltering brightness.
It arrives as a housing block newly painted,
tropical sun melting chocolate coins in foil.
Highland chrysanthemums sweat facelessly;
everyone wears red and gold.
He didn’t visit Grand Aunty the year it rained.
‘Last year not like that,’ said my niece,
who’s older than me. Out the window,
Telok Blangah, a hill washed green
in a language we don’t speak.
‘Wait every year become like that,’ she said.
She is now in Poly. Big Uncle broke his hip.
I don’t know where Bukit Chandu is.
‘So old why still work at Burger King?’
Albert-Gor admits to being promoted with shame.
Fifteen floors down, cars pass like beads.
The new SAFRA club is chunky play-toy steel.
No one knows why Third Uncle visits.
On an island that forgets about the sea,
the rain falls like a prayer.
We meet once a year, we celebrate spring.
When shorebirds stream off Kranji mudflats,
flying north: whimbrels, plovers, sandpipers,
chasing away a winter only they remember.

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