I Love You Monarchy!

Grace Chia

I'm the daughter of your daughter,
Mother B --

came here in search of my natural parents
and found no signs of recognition except
familiar looking streets, highways, buildings
and all that stuffiness.

We grew out of nothing
and now, we're an economic genius,
child prodigy,
"daughter that did well" --
so says a Welsh-Brit vagrant whom I met in Oxford --

the coconut trees here are in little packets
that cost 69p, packed in Philippines,
99 per cent full of natural coconut water.
Gave me the respite I needed to quench my thirst --
tropics in a box.
Back home we sell it back to you
but in whole coconuts complete with husks and flesh --
as you can see in picture perfect postcards
and tourist "survival kit" booklets.
The faces here that look like my
sisters and brothers
are more distant to me than
your pale face.
To you, I'm one of your abandoned children that you bore
when you sowed your royal oats --
but those with similar dusky skin and dark hair,
they smell the enemy in me
and our mutual envy.
In Chinatown, I asked for a bun
from the bakery in Mandarin
and the woman spoke persistently to me
in Cantonese; when I asked for chicken wings
in English the butcher boy replied
"no English" and thrust into my hands
pieces of chicken breasts; I asked the fortune teller
for more information about my future and he said
"I'm sorry dear, cannot tell how. You from the Tropics."

You don't want me,
Mother B (
you have your own problems,
your boys in tow,
weeds to pull,
bread to bake,
daughter D to mourn.
I think I shall not impose too long.
You're an island yourself,
like my Ma;
keep kicking, Mother B,
that's the best way an island won't sink --
if you had jaws and could bite,
you would be a shark, but I guess
you're past your prime;

You're such a baby now,
Mother B --
take care your daughters don't grow up so big and strong
they sit on your head whilst you sleep;
that's the cat tactic, you know,
pretending to be a goose so as to lay
a golden egg.

Still, I can recognise you;
for your gardens, B&Bs,
fish n' chips and the Tube,
but everybody else seems to have colonized you
and taken a bit of you.
When have you become Gulliver,
colonized by tiny people with greed and pins
who make dessert out of you?
Mother B, you're an open pie
for the American franchises,
Turkish kebabs, Italian pizzas,
Chinese duck rice, Greek pitas
and Indian curries.

I never really knew you at all --
I'm a waif now in London, offspring of your orphan,
wandering in search of an identity,
a community to belong,
and found myself walking along with the rest
by the pavement next to the rushing traffic;

you're a lady with a big heart
and everyone's chewing the corners off it.
With my baby lion's teeth, I'll bite a piece
off you and boil a pulse for tea
and in the meantime, make myself at home;

and maybe, on my way back home,
from out the sputtering tail end of the plane,
I'll find an answer
to my homeless voyage
bursting in a Big Bang.

Published in womango (1998)

Postcolonial Web Singapore OV Singaporean Literature Grace Chia