When I arrive, quiet
an uncommon chill holds
but is not taken by the hooks of us, inside.
Only the defeating bubble
shrinks on us, and in our car, cooled
late in the otherwise hot Malaysian night,
we visit neighbouring kafes
to drink tea, or to abstain,
and are smaller–surrounded,
but not taken–by unrequited rain.
In the thick morning I hear
snippets of foreign language soaps
translated into other foreignities–
languages, perhaps, to me only sweetly lingual.
By the afternoon rain, echoing in thickened air
PAs play stretched tape of an Imman
beseeching prayer. The streets are still wet under the bikes.
I see a cycle helmet sitting abandoned;
not the head of a man;
not the skull of a giant, plastic
man–but almost–I think it
a queer, smooth head
and laugh, at its neck ragged,
filled with that final rain.
It is the incongruity I desire–always have:
Content, golden Murugan at the Batu Caves
a 50’ statue with a face like anime,
and the open sewers as the sidewalk drops in.
Showing what could have been,
the sound and the smell of the highway,
cut by the fruit they sell, gritty with black pepper.