LXXIV | Can't

We leave the glass cube
and hide among the trees

that turn this place
into a garden resort.

‘Don’t say anything,’
I tell Mr. Ahmad
who’s calmly following behind.

‘I’m still human.
‘I’m not like you or even like Rowan.

‘I don’t get all of this.

‘I’m still
‘trying to… understand.’

A car runs like a phantom across the road.

Rowan’s hand
is still squished in mine.

I let her go.

Her face is expressionless.

Mr. Ahmad has turned
into an ixora bush.

‘You did a good job,’
the ixora bush says,
waving its tail.

I’m surprised.

It’s probably the Eeyore speaking,

Rowan’s winged donkey
is plodding along
a distance away.

The voice that spoke is
          too sly to be Eeyore’s.

I look away
from Mr. Ahmad’s

Sincerity doesn’t suit this cat.

I want to crouch
beside the nearest tree.

I’m tired.

A hand on my head.
It’s soft.

It’s not a cat’s paw.

I glance
beside me.

Rowan’s reached up
on tiptoe
to bury her fingers
in my hair.

The tips of her ears

are red.

She pulls her hand away
and walks off.

‘Let’s take a walk.’

I catch up with her
in a few big strides.

‘Why you stop?
‘That felt nice.
‘Pat my head again.’


I feel less tired now.




IMH really looks like a resort.

There’s a garden
between the colonial buildings

encircling the glass cube.

We stand at the edge
of a man-made river
flowing down

an artistically grimy waterfall.

Water squeezes through
large wet stones,
giggling like kids at a playground.

What a contrast
to the screams seeping through

the closed windows
of one of the white buildings.

There’s a particularly
tall fence

surrounding this one.

We follow the curve of the concrete bank
and cross a boardwalk.

A small forest of bamboo.

Seats sheltered by large green umbrellas.

A winding path lined with
different coloured stones.

Rowan stops
and looks up at one tree in particular.

I’m 100% sure
this tree
can’t grow in Singapore

so why
am I seeing
so many
of them

all of a sudden?

Rowan reaches out
to touch the lowest flower
on the tree.

When her fingers

the petals,

the flower

She turns to me
like it’s a sign (or something).

‘Is there anything else
‘that you’re worried about?’

The cat
doesn’t speak
on my behalf

so I have to think for myself.

There are
many things

I’m worried about.

There’s Ming
who’s accused me of insincerity
and I don’t know why.

There’s the rest of them
whom I can no longer

But I don’t want
to tell Rowan these things.



get it.

‘No,’ I say to her.

Mr. Ahmad
—the colour of the tree trunk,

Rowan puts her hands together,
closes her eyes
like she’s gonna pray.

But then,
she looks up at me.


The cat is still laughing.




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