When the haze descends
upon this sun-speared land, already wet
with sweat and tropical rain, clouds are veiled,
and there is smoke
in the air. Everything is a dismal grey.
Beneath September’s scented moon
the flames of lanterns link
together like lovers’ hands. Ghosts
let loose for a day, rise
to meet the haze.
My heart turns wistful. Longing
for things I had once abhorred —the acrid blue
of spent crackers. The noise. The oil
of lamps defying a moon
mourning for the night.
I sniff around for autumn’s nip
right here in scoops of briny air.
My children are oblivious of my pain,
my friends aghast at my embrace
of the haze.
This polluting dust and smoke,
poverty’s export, falling
like toxic pollen on their children—
that’s their haze.
I walk under open skies tiara’d by
Singapore’s cityscape, and the static
of this wired metropolis hisses. I
walk on to meet the chins of street lamps
growing fuzzy beards of light.
The smell of insects roasting
in the dying embers
of spent fireworks. A dusk
hanging low in the sky. And a strange
wind murmuring, as if to itself,
a soliloquy about a land
that gropes in the sea for rock and sand.
Note: Around September each year, fires from vegetation burning in Indonesia affect Singapore’s air.