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Vindula dejone erotella
Delias oraia
Urania leilus
Grapium sarpedon
Appias nero figulina
I repeat the names of common Malayan butterflies
from the book that used to be on the long white shelf
in our house in Taiping, where my memories begin
I fear I will never recover
I know this kind of love begins and ends with flowers
not words, not alcohol, not tears
not even sadness
I am tired of the earth
I remember catching butterflies – they lived
for a while in tall glass bottles and once, a green Mino tin
slowly their wings faded and turned
into mellow dust, collecting ites
like unwelcome strangers
into a dark world
I remember the orange and brown bedcover
prickly to the touch, my green pinafore and sunflower curtains
Ah Kong standing in his white shorts
wondering where you are –
it has been forty years, since you left me
a child crying by the shattering sea –
I fear I have never recovered
I think I have outstayed my time
unlike you, there is no more mourning
there is no more darkening of the sky, of the
liver, throat and spleen, of in-between coloured boats
that ferry nightly metaphors to sweet darling madness
the birds and cicadas are asleep
the floods are gone
but the butterflies –
they still lie
awake, in
the garden.