Sunday, February 25, 2007

Kanang Guni Man

(Note: In Singapore, the Kanang Guni Man is the equivalent of the rag and bone man.)

Tramping up estates, down apartment blocks,
he covers endless corridors. Endings
the man accepts--newspapers, clocks, books, clothes--
and pays their rates, weighing them on his spring.

A drab, stoop-shouldered figure, wearing a
ridiculous hat. You may still spy him
vanishing into holes, round corners, quick-
er than your eyes can blink or heart can whim.

Once, hearing his low, drawn-out call, we’d jump
at the odd chance to clear out of old flats
the moth-bitten linen, the monkey-blabber,
the images we’ve outgrown. But all that’s

no more. He’s now a curiosity.
They’d likely make the man an exhibit
of vanished trades, a symbol of a sim-
pler past, or turn him over to the poets.

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