reading experience

    Sundays, patrons dream on comfy sofas
    in the basement of the central library.
    They snuffle under pristine copies
    of The Singapore Story. They slump
    over thick piles of shojo manga, their tresses
    obscuring the off-white, tragic, right-to-left pages.
    Caught in the boat of her mother’s lap, one
    clutches a sail of coloured cloth threaded
    with magic names –  Apple, Ball, Cat –
    soft spells raining over her from cloud-height.
    Lost to the world, two schoolboys mount dragons,
    their sister falling in love over and over with vampires,
    their father looking up Things to Do in the Maldives.
    Never brighter than with four eyes buried in a book,
    they used to say of me.  Now it is my turn
    to surrender a child to different skies. She
    speeds at once to the Children’s Tree House,
    straight to a favourite author’s latest tome.
    It will keep her up for hours at home.
    She will nod off the next day through Math class
    and suffer the sighs of grownups concerned
    about her numerate, non-figurative future. Tomorrow
    will call its debts in soon enough. For now we borrow
    new lives to live by: gods, heroes, lovers, monsters,
    siren songs against the daily dark. Shivers in the spine,
    heart-gulp endings, the crisp crackle and sapling scent
    of fresh pages pried open for the first time... My daughter
    pulls at my sleeve, wakes me. She warns me not to snore,
    people are staring, the librarian is getting cross.
    Years, I spent reading her to bed, watching her smile
    and swing at giants in her sleep, until once upon a time
    she finished a book on her own and never stopped.
    Now she has the key to the cosmos, no longer needs
    my literary patronage, except the spare allotment
    on my library card. So Pang gives way to Pullman.
    This is how you know you’ve done the best you can.

17 March 2014   20:41 hours
obituary { } karung guni daughter