Toh Hisen Min

My friend, a physics DPhil candidate,
Tells me how curious water is. There're five
Different phases of water, he says, and twelve
Or so of ice. Ice forms a crystal lattice,
Which changes as you cool it. If
You use pure water, you can keep it
Liquid down to minus thirty-eight degrees
Celsius, and then it freezes with a bang,
Like the universe beginning over again.

I'm sure he's right. The more we cool
Against each other, the harder we get.
But somewhere under minus one-twenty,
Ice gains viscosity, we turn to liquid,
Start to melt again, hide our movements
In the cold. So when you probe for warmth,
You have to know that if you find it you will find
A harder wall of ice between us,
Drawn from the molten power of our rage.

From The Enclosure of Love (2001)

Postcolonial Web Singapore OV Singaporean Literature