(An Imaginary Father To An Imaginary Son)

Alvin Pang

"There is no order, no chaos, just patterns of varying complexity." Books of Magic


Stand here.
From here you can see
the world turn
and learn how to resist it.

Mark the way it resists your
movements, even air
through which you seem to move
with the greatest of ease.

It is an illusion. Somewhere
you will come to find love
and you will finally understand
the fiction of freedom.

You will know fear.
You will know loss, and the fear of loss
and you will erect
your own fictions against them.


Nothing remains.
When I clasp your hand in
mine, I am reminded of
what fragility is.

You do not yet know
the rarity of touch, how
precious the few moments
when skin meets
with skin, flowing
in unbroken surfaces.


I see you in the mirror
writ large, already diverging
from all the other reflections
that lay claim to your form.

I see where the lines
will scrawl themselves
across your forehead,
where the crow's feet will plant
their spiked stamps
as the years harden around you.

These are inevitable,
your first and most
basic inheritance.


this most intimate betrayal
of your own body
as it sells out
year after year. Your
resistance is likewise
and equally hard
to bear.


an aloofness
as the patterns unfold
before you.

Find your part
in the complexities.


I wait for you
beyond abstractions.

Come to me.
We will fold ourselves

into each other
and relinquish our place

as the stream of everything
filters through us

and passes.


There are no real boundaries
and nothing ever ends.

(Even when I am gone
or am forgotten, nothing
you see will be without me.)

Find what comfort you can
in these words

I give freely
to the face in the mirror

to you, my reflection
as you learn

to trace your own pattern
knowing that it

cannot last
do not be afraid

as you become me
and I disappear into you.

Published in Testing the Silence (1997)

Postcolonial Web Singapore OV Singaporean Literature Alvin Pang