Jeremy Fernando presents: ‘Shallowbreath’ by Lim Lee Ching

by Lim Lee Ching

我不相信死无报应。北岛. “回答

Cartwheels turning uptown, by doors of warm eyes
Staring ribboned arches on loops and flutters
Signs only point, warm turn taking off in buried shifts
The ages contest on settled sons who would
Only cast each turn as short as startles can carry
More. More controls of load and landing
Skipper takes stage left, pricking ears to a frayed linen
And more, much left to run the piping dry
Such winded depths are a cause for troubled rest
But so too the morning’s secrecies
How far can the hands reach in? How tight the grasp?
Till it flows. Upwards as certainty parses
Threads on the sheets gives way to the utterance
Of the cobbled many. Who lays this side of the
Angled holstery; who assembles the felt needs
Of the meddled few. These strains calls
Forth the west-bound harp snitches of
A celebrated warmth. A textiled nursing of
Allayed smokememory. Assigned parcels
And so passes the rolls of uptown cartwheels
Hours displaced upon hours on each turn upwards
Line, thread. Invitations to tea
Twinnings and silver plates. Tables for tanned
Elbows. How hard had they driven; how harm’s
Length hounded the highroad venture, forcing sighs
That recent memory can only address. Damp
Surroundings are an easy answer to the strides
Outward-here. Can sally comeward attend to
The stilled sheets under which length-bound
Tangled-tot come hussle forth? Skipper takes the left
This night the doors of warm eyes remain
Drenched with the naked anguish of generations
Of the driven. Whose hopping bags holds
Up the sky’s share of the starry eyed ribbon gasps
For enough to reach the end of another side
Of a deep, gruelling stained call to hussle forth
Who’s left is left in need, in ankle deep
Step wheels, raking defied yard work, heading
Height-ward. Go within blinking distance from
The shared symptoms of ribbon loop
This band is your sand, this hand is your stand
So the next day’s planned concessions
Let go of pan dust gathered against withdrawn
Efforts. Plain sight portending the degrees
Of enveloping figurations one to every
Tanned elbow and broad shoulder burdened
With the load of answer and belief
As horsemen pass by scattering the season’s
Blind dust for the early call to muster
Musts up the modest clearing with murmurs
To stir the humanity off the earth of deposited
Pleasantries. Ablemen and their worthies
Take heart to every accumulated sense
And interest in the blessed return to
Wish making. The night saw off the rest that
The fitful can find scarce in the deep-scented
Deep-land that must now count as settled
Redress. Crossroads are so founded
In the venerable age, by the venerable
Bodyside, the worshipful take heart in the blessed
Return. To wish, to heal, to prayer, to the
Word of a winded thread upon to hang every
Utterance of civil obedience. Fervour is faint
Determinant but gives to the seeing
Eye the reverie of a poet’s clear breath and
Silent counting of the beat steps towards the
Imagined hooftaps of distant invitations
Can the sink light for once provide the useable
Words of fateful apprehension? Who sought the
Kissing bay left of the half-tracked stamping
Line, invites the heart-plaids of the sole
Tethered stand man. Hurtled onwards to
The marrow of the morning might. Had the brush
Strokes arrived earlier, the scheme would yet
Weather down to the prayerful tears of
The hand clasped stone catchers who coat
The rich earth’s manners with far more than
Weariness. Blue clouds, the days ahead will
Roll onwards, heaven by. The sixth prayer
Not to be found. The ardour of obedience claims
Admission to the persistent front end
Where all is wonder, want not more than
Lofty strides among the streaming tea tide
Prayer for prayer, accuracy’s demands count many
To exclude those who have fallen deep into the
Spell of words, seeds and pollen grain aloft
Pitch, trunk and wide arms. Skyward, all seem
All seeing, all introspection, all oddly
Calmed despite the horror of hope destining
Divining from castaway pebbled path of knee high
Supplicating. Knowing depth of the valleys of
Survival at the edge of the earth’s conceit and rhyme
Nothing holds still beyond the line. Nothing and
Everything biding pulse for pulse, shattering the
Din of the key of night. Of completed eagerness
To please the shrine and keeper, gate and key
All, all who seek this night and moons to come
Cast not shadow cast not stony fitless stare
Of those there, and all absent, sent inwards
Staring ribboned arches by the door of warmed eyes.

March 2012


‘Shallowbreath’ first appeared in the 6th issue of One Imperative — Dream(s) — which can be found here:

Lim Lee Ching teaches interdisciplinary subjects at SIM University, Singapore. He is the editor of the Singapore Review of Books.

The featured imaged, Falling Empty Kingdom, is a painting by the novelist & visual artist, Julie O’Yang


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