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Home Ghazal (Alvin Says, It Is What We Love That Gives Us Our Names) photo

Because a monsoon without name could drown a lesser country than Singapore
but here, when we chew the meat off the rain, our teeth hit bone. Singapore,

home with hands of gold zip-tied behind its back, sweat in its eyes for
safekeeping, & the stray cats working their minor miracles all across Singapore.

I fell in love with a girl who said if you listen close at night you can hear
the air begging to be water. Later she told me she had lived in Singapore

too long to call it home anymore. She hated her name so together we made
her a new one, & like this she finally belonged to herself. Not like Singapore

where to belong is to leave, even summer constantly inventing itself with
a generosity easily mistaken for infidelity. I only fell in love with Singapore

when two aunties in the hawker stall line called me a slut in Mandarin, & as
I left with my nasi lemak I said thank you, not to them so much as you, Singapore,

with your mouth too big for maps, your soul air-conditioned out & crowded with
dawn-gorged mosquitoes who wreck our thighs, wreck our names, invent Singapore.


image: Eve Ettinger