Even the film-makers will have to admit,
the Malay annals upon the people’s consciousness
would wash like the tide
piling jetsam upon the jetty steps,
you said, as the car hit
ninety, beetling into the obsessive shell
of a parched landscape. And K.L hours behind.
Dodging the disappearances and appearances
of the road, the cradled ego growing blind
against the body’s chafing would hide
from the terrible squashing of the sun,
threshing in daydream played out in the street…
of the Captain China, the one
who, befogged in private vision,
laid down his law and his women,
drove through the town in his carriage and eight –
for our forefathers left much behind
bringing mostly, when they came, the body
to contend with, did not notice the landscape,
the nodding vacuity of a malformed head.

At year’s end, the sense of annunciation touched only
the windows of the solidarity
And at the garden party, the bishop,
between meeting the community’s leaders,
picked at his beard, thinking perhaps of his study,
colonnades…the cathedral town…
The Capitan’s horses go clip-clop,
passing like breeze down the midnight streets.

Our conversations petering out…silences…
Daydreams settle into laterite and gibberish of vegetation,
which made nonsense of Saint Francis’ mission.
De Sequiera’s troops over the ridge
forgot the meaning of their Christ and King.
Under the flare of the sun’s declension,
the hills ignited. We passed the region
of the dead, the circular descent of those
who died and had committed nothing.

Our room’s on the second floor.
I am rather tired after today;
I feel the darkness of Babylon at the door.

By Wong Phui Nam (1962)