by Mohamed Latiff Mohamed
Tonight, if we stain our hands with henna
I will guide our people, hand in hand
Towards the fiery red well of lucidity
A sign that my battle is just beginning
Should the bridal grains gleam
I shall light up the night with flame from a candle
Incensed with seven seasons of flowers
Heralding the return of Jebat, waving his kris.
Translated from Malay by Annaliza Bakri, the poem is reprinted with the author’s and translator’s permissions. The translation was originally published in Segumpal Api Selingkar Pelangi: Puisi-puisi Pilihan 1967-1977 (Singapore: Solo Enterprises, 1978).
Bio from Singapore Infopedia: “Mohamed Latiff Mohamed (b. 20 March 1950, Singapore– ) is a prolific poet and writer in Singapore’s Malay literary scene. A teacher by training, he is best known for his works about the struggles of the Malay community in post-independence Singapore. A three-time winner of the Singapore Literature Prize, Mohamed Latiff was awarded the Cultural Medallion in 2013.” Read more.