A toddler reaching up enfolds
the circle of her mother's neck
while mother's arms about her hold
the world, nor will she let it break
away, or somehow spin amok,
but on its axis fixes it.
Nuzzling the warmth
of her youngster's neck
the mother tells (or is she told?)
the trusted certainties of old:
-- the sun will round the east in flight,
and dawn to evening, give its light;
-- the earth is round, as is the moon,
and like a top, spins out her tune;
-- above the slow horizon's curve,
are splashed the dappled hues of love,
spread out, since ere the world begun
and creatures danced with men as one;
-- displayed, as is the peacock's tail,
the ancient splendour of the tale
of arms that pin our worlds in place
and help them spin with steady grace
(encircling hopes and certainties
like rainbows and the greens of trees)
nor will not let them spin amok,
or even from their axes slip.
Around each other and our worlds
the arms hold fast, with fingers curled;
contain our frailness-met-through-grace
and child and mother, face to face,
encircling, each, in her embrace,
themselves, and all of us, in place.
Written in 1998 and first published in "Teachers' Resource File on Singapore Literature".
Published by the Creative Arts Programme Alumni & the Gifted Education Branch, Ministry of Education.
Last modified: 20 December 2000