CONVERSATION WITH MY FRIEND KWANG MIN AT LOONG KWANG OF OUTRAM PARK (available in audio format)

Among
Sensitive vases,
Silk birds
Lamenting sullen, fading flowers;
And those delicate golden statues
Caught in some potent gesture....
You are captured by serenity:
Kuan Yin upon the lotus.

Conversation fades --
Time splits itself.

There are centuries here,
In these images.
Many generations left
These signs of contemplation,
Embodiments of hope, despair --
In art. The art of living;
Of mounting better worlds.
Man emerging from the dark
Made dreams, tamed nightmares
Into lovely moving monuments,
Each a voice stealing
Upon you, conversing softly
Out of its secret heart.

This jade pomegranate
Is succulent; that ivory boat
Will always sail to Mogadishu,
Taking Cheng Ho by our city. In that
Corner, intimidating himself,
A cutish lion glares.

Half-way up the wall,
In porcelain, a rare Hannuman.
He ravished the gardens of Heaven,
Cowered the gods one week-end,
Was tamed and sinonised,
Absorbed, given a role, then
Adventured home to India
In search of texts.
He scratches still, in kungfu fashion.

On a plinth,
Li of the Iron Staff
Whose gentle heart belies
The terror of his face,
Remains a comfort.
What better lesson is there
Than to suffer because
You helped another?

Empires wax and wane
States cleave asunder,
Coalesce in this carv'd panel.
Kun Ming deceives his enemy
By playing his favourite tune
While perched, oblivious,
Upon the city gate. He smiles,
Who faithfully served a cause
He knew was lost;
He, who ruled the winds,
Understood the stars,
The very hand of fate,
Kept true unto the last.

As you move into
Presences of the past
Little things emerge:
Tea-pots, a cracked,
Perky cup; incense-burners
Heavy with prayer; brush stands,
Wine jugs....
All looking contented
In a Singapore afternoon.


Edwin Thumboo
Revised 16 Sept 2004

© Copyright 2002 (updated 11.7.2005) Edwin Thumboo