doing the midlife time

this is your mother, water raining into her
skin, cheekbones washed by dirty yellow. you stay
by her bed & cower at how much death
is a ghoul right outside the door, how it loves
to taste the rich flavour of mockery.
this is a cyclical play:
little finch on the telephone wire,
kingfish that float on the foam
above the water, the baby reaching out
from between her legs. here,
your eggplant gaze rubs its hands against
the shy drywall, the curtain, the fresh-faced nurse.
and it is too hot. the motions of loss
boil its victims to the neck.
this is your father. he trudges past your wages
& hope they’ll never acknowledge him.
comes home with filthy palms, bites into
fresh garlic & avoids the doctor.
your gut giggles at the office,
like a beetle on a flytrap. almost
chewed by sharpness, waiting to die. dawns
are only threatening. & you wonder
that when they talk about horizons,
& about the subtle art of ageing—
if they mean this & nothing more:
this dilapidation that skins you naked,
rolling you on its tongue.

Aneska Tan is a student from Singapore who likes to write when she is not fighting her way through academia. She has had a small number of pieces featured in school-based publications under a different name. She hopes to own a writing hut someday (much like Mark Twain’s!) and in the after hours you’ll usually find her wallowing in her inability to leave the house.

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