Reincarnation (4): Remembering Campbell St.


Town zipped electric wires overhead;
Crowds spilt from the edges of the island’s soul.
My working mother in the emporium said
Dad would come soon to take me away.
I said Yes Yes YES! out we would go into
The sweating street where my favourite Indian
Restaurant was always ready to serve up
Curries of the dreamiest kind.
But dad did not come and I
Stepped outside by myself
(The street rang with bright lights and shone
With restive passion air chatter) –
To find the years slide backward
To a time when the same street was
Red sailors tattooed lanterns and rickshawmen.
The pretty ladies in the jade green cheongsam
Brushed my hair and asked me if
I could help them halt the River.
One of them shed a trembling tear,
Saying all she had would soon be gone.
And right on time came the wholesalers of
Housewares and faceless materialism
To wipe out her kind of romanticism.
Now the nights took in families of
Righteous virtues and solid cash.
The merchants of life’s necessities
Believed in the fantastic playground –
Until the island shifted West and
The shadows of the monster malls
Towered over the green and the blue.
I knew then I’d have to find my dad
And tell him of this strange fever.
To the Chinese Sports Club I hurried.
Round the corner I imagined its checkered floor
Of black white black white black marble.
There men like my dad played ping-pong
To the steady sound of their passing youth.

13.7.16  Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


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