04 August 2006


            ching ming

            to bright hill temple she has gone
            carrying joss and money
            bringing food and drink
            for her mother-in-law’s soul.

            lychees oranges and one apple
            two bowls of white rice
            three vegetarian dishes
            ang ku kueh and bean paste buns

            joss sticks chopsticks
            a vase to hold the flowers
            two chinese cuplets
            to hold the chinese tea.

            with a weary heart
            she kneels before the urn
            to explain for those
            who are not here.

            ah seng cannot come
            he is too busy at the office
            tua gor cannot come because
            she is in poor health

            ah leong will not come
            now that he is baptised
            ji gor is not coming
            but i do not know why.

            so today i come alone, mother
            i bring your favourite dishes
            this money i burn for your
            use in the other world

            the years pass and we forget
            but i am here, mother, and today
            you shall not be lonely
            in the season of the dead.
posted by Gilbert at Friday, August 04, 2006

11 Comments:

Blogger Yangkwan said...

Hi Gilbert,
I enjoyed reading your "Ching Ming"
and congrats on your Golden Point Award.
When can we read your winning entry "My Father takes my son..." ??
Thanks

from: Oscar

September 07, 2005  
Blogger Gilbert Koh said...

Thought I would float this poem up to the top page again, since it is that time of the year ... Ching Ming, I mean.

August 04, 2006  
Blogger Bluesky_Liz said...

Appropriate. The feeling of loneliness really is strong in this piece. A bit of irony, that it is a daughter-in-law who is performing these duties and not the sons and daughters. One of my mum's collegues is in this situation, I am picturing it is her who speaks the words of this poem.

August 04, 2006  
Blogger family man said...

Gilbert - wrong number lah...

it is now 7th month, not ching ming - which is just after Chinese New year.

August 04, 2006  
Blogger MB said...

Strongly built poem, Gilbert.

August 04, 2006  
Blogger Gilbert Koh said...

TC, silly me .... I always get confused. I just think of all the burning paper.

August 05, 2006  
Blogger Mr Jherek said...

Excellent Poem

August 05, 2006  
Blogger Plus Ultra said...

Sounds a little bit inauspicious especially with two 7 months this year...bad time to go to the cemetery! No wonder they left it to the daughter in law....Is the painting yours?

August 06, 2006  
Blogger prayingbudda said...

when i read this poem, the hair on my arms stood.

August 06, 2006  
Blogger spyder said...

Ahhh ... filial piety - that which gives meaning to 'family' and binds us to our past and our future. Precious, is it not? For me - a daughter, a sister, a mother, a mother-in-law and a grandmother - this poem is so meaningful.

August 08, 2006  
Blogger dsnake1 said...

gilbert,
i think your poem, "Somebody's Ashes", will be perfect to describe the 7th month, but then both festivals are times to remember our dearly departed. And burning of paper offerings. :)

August 10, 2006  

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