My poem – Nenek (maternal grandmother)

Screen-Shot-2014-03-04-at-5.34.43-PM-165x200I’m on Week Three of a 30 day writing course – Digging Deep, Facing Self – and my poetry guru, Caits Meissner, has asked each of us to share our favourite piece of work as an exercise of vulnerability and bravery. I’d love to hear your thoughts on my poem. It’s still a very early draft, so be gentle, and please do comment!

Nenek (maternal grandmother)

I was thirteen and
an ill-fitting shoe
in my new country
of vegemite and Uncle Toby’s
I, child of chicken rice and noodles

when Nenek died

Mak flew back with Aisyah
I wish I had gone too
to say goodbye before the end
but only two decades later
when I awoke to the meaning of my ancestry

I lost your blue-stoned ring,
Nenek,
forgive me.
it haunts me
how careless I was

while I grieved for you,
refugees were shipwrecked
drowning
trying to enter the country
I waltzed into (via aeroplane)

“There are no children in detention centres.”
said the national lie
as more and more babies were born
into a cage

Nenek, you fled the communists
on a leaky boat with Datuk
not a cent to your name

your catalyst: being at gunpoint
Datuk told the soldier
“Shoot her first.”

you fled on a boat
like so many around the world
dark night, full moon swallowing the sky
risking death by drowning

you were a boat person
scorned
like the others left bloated
in the water
but you survived

you carved out a new life in Singapore
birthed countless children
showed them how to survive the ache of life
served tea to Datuk even when you could barely walk

Nenek, I am comfortable now
calm, grounded, married
you would have been so proud
I have returned to country you fled from
lifetimes ago

you paid for this, in the terror of your
night-time exodus
huddled next to your husband
towards an uncertain future

you have secured mine.

2 thoughts on “My poem – Nenek (maternal grandmother)

  1. I love it. The way you sealed it with the last line, it was beautiful 🙂 sorry not much constructive criticism here hehehe

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