Two Poems by Jonathan Chan

rail corridor: sketches
first stride: along grassy paths,
walkways carved by the imprints
of past treks. butterflies and herons,
longkangs surging, folded around malls,
by roads and schools and barracks, under 
underpasses and into denser herbage.  

the folding humidity and whip of wind, brief
brush of soft rain. gingerly over dead frogs 
and eyes honed-in on rotting fruit, like a red
maw. quartered community tracks, hands
cupped to make the gravel glow green. 
against the vegetation, the whir of weeds
whacked by brothers in red jumpsuits. 

last stretch: the squelch of mud, the rush 
of the river. similes always gastronomic: 
like fudge, brownie batter, teh peng, 
fanta orange. the concrete of a looming
intersection, framed by foliage. mouth 
opens into deceptive pools, treaded 
with delicacy, exhaustion simmering,
the unbearable lightness of walking 
on water. 
		
morning dew

Clementi Forest, Singapore

'For a time / I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.’
     -	Wendell Berry, ‘The Peace of Wild Things’ 
the misty layer bears no forethought 
of sorrow. it hovers over the
clearing and the stream, just as the
yawn of daylight scatters over 
vines and fans of leaves. the albizia 
tree is glazed in morning’s attention. 
the swifts take their place in shyer 
crowns, and the beetles rest, shells 
glistening red, like jewels. and yet,

i cannot shake the tinted weight of 
grief: like the grip of mud, or the roots 
that coil like snakes, how distraction 
bends into every ache, the transience 
of crisper air. for the gradual cut of 
silence, the laying down of tracks, the 
slow weaning of faces, and the lives
lived in transition, the forest comes,
and will come again, resolving into 
a kind of strength. for a time, we come
as we are.  

Jonathan Chan is a writer, editor, and graduate student at Yale University. Born in New York to a Malaysian father and South Korean mother, he was raised in Singapore and educated in Cambridge, England. He is interested in questions of faith, identity, and creative expression.

 

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