Flight Patterns and the Sense of Smell

Yong Shu Hoong


I remember holding her
in the half darkness,
a slow dance just ending,
and she had placed
her tired little head
against my shoulders.
But I turned away.

Maybe she didn't smell right—


That night, we were just having our fun
like typical army boys—my first taste
of the Singapore nightlife I never knew existed.
A friend held up his glowing lighter
and, like magic, numbers began dancing
upon the signboard above our heads.
The gathering of women
reminded me of devouring moths—


In Bangkok, we managed to hide our musk
behind the fragrance of money. The girls—
they were not particular as long as you kept buying
your glasses of Coke at fifty bahts each.
For two drinks, one girl was willing to offer her bosoms.
My right palm still aches for her ripeness,
but my mind remembers only the fluttering motion
of her hands as they joined to form a butterfly
after she saw me stealing nectar elsewhere.

Published in Isaac (1997)

Postcolonial Web Singapore OV Singaporean Literature Yong Shu Hoong