Why Metal Complains
Watching Pakcik from the apartment six floors below us balance the weight of his wife on his obsolete Vespa, I now know why metal complains. As he calculates things like the cost of petrol, he wonders about the exact amount of stress a machine will accept as duty before it breaks and then nobody gets to go anywhere.
The wife has to contend with hugging him only from behind, in a rusty helmet that struggles to keep everything inside her head. She muses about a time when she took him "as is" purely because he promised her Bapak that she would be safe with him. A less metallic time, when wood had purpose, made homes and held ground. He turns around to see if she's ready. Reads her answer through the plastic shield that could have protected her face from the road, from the wind that will try to whisper horrible things into her ears, from the cold, quick cut of his brass buckle-head when it swings her way, nights.
She nods. She always nods.
And then they leave. I return to cutting fruits, humming to the sound of steel slicing through the white flesh of apples and pears. The chopping board doesn't mind. Nothing else seems more final.
By Eric Low Soon LiangQLRS Vol. 5 No. 4 Jul 2006