for my sister, Yin Peng
With bridal pride, you guide me round the mock
estate, constructed in its Perspex case
with cardboard, tape and glue: the tower block,
the tennis courts, the children’s swimming pool,
in whose blue ring you cannot see your face
but trust the drafting compass, plumb line, rule.
You spoke of how you settled what will be,
after his arduous courtship. Your new base
on land wrestled from South China Sea
is a settlement wavering in the steam,
buzzing with insects, gripped by jungle days,
so that the blueprint bleaches like a dream.
But what a dream! Imagining the move
from swamp to windows, tall, generous space.
As much an act of courage as of love.
An earlier version titled "Home Purchase" was published in the "Quarterly Literary Review of Singapore".