for Hong-Ling Wee (arr. 1992)
On a NASA scholarship to map the world,
she walked into a workshop on a whim
to throw a lump of clay on a wheel and feel
a foggy, quiet, pink, revolving world
evolve into an object of the mind
under the body's pressure, slight and sure,
and, afterwards, surrender to the fire,
not that of fire, but that of accident,
for a ceramic rocket fallen back
to earth. And this she did, for many years,
living on little, explaining less, until
she was surrounded by the fuselage.
When the towers gashed vermilion and buckled,
she was alone at home in Union Square.
The noise expanded as it dribbled off
to meet its echo, second detonation
worse than the first report, in summoning
half-buried images of Hiroshima
and sister city Nagasaki. Alone
in an unfamiliar state, a foreign mood,
she heard the phone ring and a female voice,
acclimatized but recognizable
as Singaporean, asked for Wee Hong Ling.
She never tires of telling this story, how
the Consulate located her and every
Singaporean within an hour of disaster,
when a black hole opened but was avoided
because a star had called, a star called home.
She never tires of telling this story, which
I now tell you in my own fanciful way,
each iteration also explanation,
the how developing into the why,
why her pitchers, bowls, vases levitate.
By Koh Jee LeongQLRS Vol. 18 No. 1 Jan 2019