Chandran Nair (b. 1945) was educated at Raffles Institution and the
University of Singapore (MSc, Marine Biology). He is the author of Once
the Horsemen and Other Poems
(1972) and After the Hard Hours, This Rain
(1975), Poems and Lyrics of the Last Lord Li (with Koh Ho Ping, 1975),
as well as Reaching for Stones (Collected Poems, 2010). He won the New
Nation short story prize in 1973 with "Leta", was founder/president
of the Society of Singapore Writers (1976), and edited Singapore
(1977) and Short Stories from Asia and Africa (1977). He is a
signatory of the ASEAN Writers Declaration which states the objectives,
rights and responsibilities of writers in the national and ASEAN contexts.
After a career as a publisher in Singapore, he joined UNESCO in 1981 as
a book development expert and he has worked in Asia, Africa, the
Caribbean and Europe. Now retired, he lives in France.

Crossing The Desert

crossing her desert with old maps
beneath the clouded blueness
of the sky, he fails to see her love
greens only the desert's edge
in stunted shrubs, drab umbellifers

while constructing new maps
he finds in her mind, poisoned oases,
trees of dried fruit
with hidden stones. shifting
like sand he despairs, realises
he is lost

But She Keeps Flowers In Her Hills

the desert undulates like mind
love survives in stunted clumps
longing turned to stone repeats
but she keeps flowers in her hills

her deserts walk, holding dreams
do not speak, no rain will come
dry earth unites you with death
but she keeps flowers in her hills

she, an eagle, falls like stone
but pulls away in force
talons slash your dreams
but she keeps flowers in her hills

He Feels The Time Has Come

to end this journey into self
so turns his eyes to hers
two deepening pools entomb his intentions
but he dives in

paralysed he reflects
to be a slave is not a bad vocation
if one is fed

so with her he walks the hills
awaiting the sudden sloping of the gradient
unsure his feet will catch against sand

when the night sky widens her face
he sees stars pale against morning
realises she has gone

unsure she will come again
at night he dreams he is hanuman
alight over the sleeping city of fear
in his mind he creates
a wilderness suitable
for her homecoming

The Limp Mind Closes

around images that have become dust
you hold your handfuls of dust
the long day's gentle tedium
afraid to open limp fists
for even a little loss diminishes
the possibility of dreams

you learn to drown
let the emotions wash you
of the debris collected by love
till there remains but the grey horizon,
the reality of words against
the deception of feeling

mid-life you begin to appreciate
the necessity of surrender
they will haunt you these dreams
return in the sudden flash of longing
the hand held, the lips, the eyes
the waves on another shore limply dying
on enduring sand

when you have muted the colours
washed out the sharp lines
mixed the white to dampen the contours
your limp hands will sign this picture

call it simply, life

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