Two Poems

Tasting Karma

Does the doctor prefer eating an apple
before he announces death? The doctor says:
“Just so—sorry.” Or, he prefers studying an apple? 
Mrs. Suen feels her mother’s soul in our barbecued sow, 
and she vomits all night. Her mother likes her pork belly
drenched in a salty pool of leeks, onions, and garlic. 
Sow, her mother preferred sow. “I’m alright. 
Yellow is the morning!” Mrs. Suen says. What if 
blue’s her lucky colour, and her motto’s changed 
into Blue is the morning? Will it coax her mother back? 
Apicius taught: “Give the sows honeyed wine
before you kill them. Pump up their livers.”
Mrs. Suen’s mother died of liver cancer. 
Was her previous life two thousand years ago
Apicius, and in this life she needs to pay her debt
yet-to-be-fulfilled? Will she be a sow in her next life
for she ate too much pork belly? 
“Nothing can be brought away, only the karma
that follows,” her mother used to say. 
Mrs. Suen asks: “What more should I do 
to be her daughter in my next life?”

 

Breakfast in Hei Hei

Not far from my peanut toast, 
a voice burrs: Look! Look! 
The green tiles bright with holes.
Loss is a luminous canvas 

that I’m forbidden to touch 
but only allowed to look. 
Mrs. Suen stays close 
to the cashier, straightens 

the paper notes. Her mother 
passed away yesterday. 
The TV reflects—
the news reporter, 

now a spectre, his limbs 
on the screen, flanked by jumping
pixels, hook my eyes. 
The waiters smoke. 

Mr. Yuen pats Mrs. Suen’s 
shoulder, not saying a word. 
He knows that silence 
is the closest distance 

when somebody doesn’t 
need more comfort. 
The sun-glared TV stares.
It’s in its own mind. 

The air smells like butter. 
Mrs. Suen hurries to pack 
a satay beef macaroni 
and a no-sugar milk tea 

for a taxi driver waiting
outside in his vehicle. 
Her back torques sheen,
a mantle bright enough 

to cover anything that’s 
too dark in her to be seen. 
Yellow is the morning—
her motto. 

Belle Ling is a PhD student in creative writing at the University of Queensland, Australia. She likes writing poems that shuffle between the quotidian and the transcendent, provoking in-depth thoughts on philosophical reflections. Her poetry manuscript, Rabbit-Light, was Highly Commended in the 2018 Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize.

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