The Monsoon Speaks Her Defence

by Joshua Kam

The prodigal leaves return to me,
Rewind into the breasts of a rain-tree.

Repose.  I’m an amnesiac –Malacca, Malaga;
Oh, what’s in a word?

Not to say I am forgetful.
I liked cinnamon.  I loved a boy

once.  He was brown and wore a sarong.

Lived in a stilt-house by the rocking-chair sea.

He proffered a Kris,  then a fish-scale moon. 

I had them smoked, licked them

like a delicate

They rode the furling breadths of

poppies on me, eggshell-extracted to find

themselves in a Mandarin’s

cup. Or in a man, chewing his

rice, himself. 

Opiate was I. 

I thought I was
a river, presently a rhythm.


And now?  I am ancient -a withering hymn.

A girl from a distant island,

suddenly insecure in a dust-and-eternity market.  

I  have heard the red liveries, the Union Jack,

the cross erected on the sand.

I know Christ, and I know Paul -but who are you?


Call me Exotic, eternal, I tell them.

I am fragile, wilting in the hands of pale Fish.

I know your impotence, your semen.

As well as the fingers of a Javanese God.

A thousand years and the gold-haired tourists

scuffing my shores have not erased me,

and neither will you-

not for all the tea in China.