Aaron Lee Soon Yong is a prize-winning poet and lawyer. He is the author of A Visitation
of Sunlight
(1997) and co-editor of No Other City: the Ethos Anthology of Urban Poetry (2000)
and Love Gathers All: the Philippines-Singapore Anthology of Love Poetry(2002). His work
appeared in publications in Malaysia, Germany, Australia and the US. He has been
invited by the Ministry of Education to mentor gifted student poets.

Newton Discovers Gravity At Twelve

In fact, at that exact moment
he is not reclining under an apple tree
as we are given to understand;
he is neither serious with middle age nor
heavy-headed with the ballast of
a lifetime's learning.

Instead, he is a budding writer
(& although not a bad student
here he is, in the middle of the day,)
leaning by a well a half mile from the village,
having been sent home for
falling asleep & dreaming
of flying, as we all sometimes do.

And so, telling his troubles
to his reflection, he drops words
at the inky disc in which his tiny head
is haloed by blue sky and light,
& understands for the first time
that saying is a metaphor for seeing,
that sound can plumb the meaning of a life .

After this he goes home, duly comforted
(but not a little disturbed), laden
with his books, a new-found knowledge & perhaps
one round apple half eaten. He remembers
how each weighted word had arrowed
into the well; how he looked into
its shadowy depths & it spoke to him.
His eyes growing wide as
he understands for the first time
the secret truth that takes
us by the hand & free-falls
us into the heart of dying.

Sonnet (i.m. Robin Lim - 29 June 2002, New York)

A woman gazes at a picture of her son.
She is remembering the sound of his voice
the last time they spoke, how the ordinary words
traversed an ocean and a sea, his unspoken
tenderness rippling in the distance between them.
She studies, through the window, cones scattered
from a tree she does not know the name of,
their broken geometry of love and loss.
The tree does not belong in this tropic heat;
each tiny brush of leaf shaped by its longing
for a temperate sun. She turns back to his picture
while we orbit lightly around her, an immovable
centre of grief. Outside, the hush of water gathering
in its pool, and the sound of a dove in the morning.

The Promise
after Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ"

As far as loyalty goes - and now may
or may not be the time to discuss this -
we had three years to make up our mind,
nearly four in fact, but then nobody
told you what you were in for when all this began,
so you were left to find out things for yourself.
The others never asked an intelligent question,
just ate all day and fished all night on the gleaming
somnolent lake, which was burnished like these coins
you hold now in your hands, inscriptions
time-worn and barely visible, perfectly flawed
and therefore suited to their purpose. Though what
does it matter now - after years, each sunrise is
the same: you will soon sleep; it is light again before
you know it and nothing has changed. Except
this time we will wait to hear if you got away,
or if he is dead, was it worth it and what
the coming night will bring and did you betray us all.

Love and its Senses

"the heart has its reasons, which reason knows nothing of."
-Blaise Pascal

Clearly it is a many-splendoured thing,
but its definition seems to
teeter on stilettos
on the precipice of sanity.

To get some idea of its meaning,
watch the trickle of a tear
down a soft cheek, or
look in the clean light of morning
at the liquid bruise
of lipstick on skin.

Scent its long-forgotten presence
in the landscape of remembrance,
or hear its distant echo
in every tree and flower
whispering forgive me, forgive.

Perhaps its purpose is simply
to remind us that by one life,
another is irretrievably changed.
And that sometimes,
there is pain.

But you should know
that there is also joy
in love, and madness;
the kind that tells you
to step breathless off a boat
before it leaves the shore,
to wade one step at a time
towards a deepening circle of sea and sky.

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