Singapore’s Favorite Poem

Ling E. Teo, a teacher and short-story writer based in New York City, nominates “Homecoming” by Bridget-Rose Lee. Of the poem, Teo writes, “I like the imagery using Nature and the sense of wonder and loss in the poem.”



Do you know the birds too, start late when the rain falls
too early? I heard them coo and tap from high branch to low,
the smaller ones need not flap their wings as they are lifted by
the wind. Their movements tcch, tsssh; secrets bound then
bounced off webbed feet. Do you know the dried silver
of dead fish is a tad brighter than they swim? I spotted one
and walked by but the second one I got to stop. I wanted to share
with you a special insight that perhaps the world may pass by
nonchalant. Its pout on one side stiffened to a still, its beady eye could be
a fresh seed or a spoilt gem. The fin flagged its final fling. Not the royal crunch
of maggots, the sparse flesh was beginning to draw in a laidback crowd
of red-black ants and lazy flies. That’s about all you’ll get
for life in the lake. Oh
but that silver! I bite at the likeness of something meek, fearing yet
wanting something big.

Do you know the crow is in fact the most devoted bird? She sings of evil and
casts the grim scowl, everyone assumes. But the crow always goes back
like a beautiful haunting, nursing her young whose first instincts
is love. Back home we never shoot down piety but we don’t know much
to glorify a black bird. In a Chinese home, everything belongs to an altar and more red is
more luck. So much has happened to me. I want to share.
Don’t take away the early part. The rain has, this morning.

by Bridget-Rose Lee, first published in How2 Journal.


bridget-rose lee wrote a number of poems, one of which resonated very well with the hoi polloi. she lives in singapore. still.

About Jee Leong Koh

My book of poems Steep Tea (Carcanet) was named a Best Book of 2015 by UK's Financial Times, and a Finalist by Lambda Literary. I also wrote three other books of poems and a book of zuihitsu. My work has been shortlisted for the Singapore Literature Prize, and translated into Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian and Latvian. Originally from Singapore, I live in New York City, where I edit the arts blog Singapore Poetry, and run the Second Saturdays Reading Series and the Singapore Literature Festival in NYC.

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