Grace Chua (b.1984) is working towards a B.A. in English and Psychology
at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in
Quarterly Literary Review Singapore and From Boys To Men: A Literary
Anthology of National Service
in Singapore.

The Fruit Thieves

We scaled the orchard wall together,
tumbling over the side into rich grass.
Climbed the ladders to the deep dream garden
of our longing, where in the dark, ripe tangerines
left their ghosts on our tongues.
Where moths, grey as dust or fog,
grazed the night with powdered wings.
Where no thorns guarded us, no flint-eyed dog
patrolled some portion of the soul.

Reavers, plunderers, pilferers, thieves:
our sacks, heavy with wanting,
spilling over and over
breathless beneath the trees. Split fruit.
By the light of one torch we saw
the clear sweet juice of a mangosteen
staining to black plum on our cheeks and shirts,
love staining to blood on our thighs.


I am standing in the snow
in the middle of the woods.
Somewhere a telephone is ringing -
in a red telephone box
standing in the snow
in the middle of the woods.
The call comes like geese
from a distant place.
Frost clings to the branches
as I make my way
to the telephone box
standing in the snow
in the middle of the woods.
If a telephone rings
in the forest
and there is no one to hear,
is it still ringing?
I pick up the phone.
Winter, she says,
is coming. Are you wearing a coat?

Sunday Morning

Dead jellyfish resemble plastic bags
along the shore. This morning's undertow
is a giant whale that drains the sand in Vs
from under my very toes, the sea itself
recoiling and washing away.

Things of the air do not belong in water.
Plastic bags, for instance, eaten by turtles,
smother them as one might suffocate
from ecstasy or fervour. Likewise the haloes,
six-pack rings, around the necks of birds,
sharing divinity.

The edges of rock pools are sharp and
will serrate bare feet. Other benign horrors
may lurk at the bottom, such as sharp-spiked stonefish
or sea-slugs squirting briny spray. Temptation is
putting your head in to look,
which can either end very well
or very badly. When is a baptism
really a drowning?

Today I will be drowned.
Will I belong in water, or will I suffocate
and catch myself praying?
When my life floats loose,
only a heart full of ghosts
will keep me adrift. But even driftwood,
pounded smooth in the surf,
has its own way of surviving.

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