What Would We Have To Hide?

Malai is mountain. Melayu is where we make things

run. It is the current of our river. For 40,000 years,

 

we have been split by the South China Sea.

Our ground eroding, our bedrock dissolving

 

we have always made what we need.

We make cars. We build satellites.

 

Trust me, the planes we make do not go up

without coming back down.

Dear Drowned Wings,

Apologies for sending so many letters, but how am I to stop worrying about you, buried blind under that black water, easy prey for hatchet fish, viperfish, spookfish, bristlemouths, all those ambush predators? Even if you don’t care about us, how can you rest down there

dear you, with your excessive wingspan, your polimer construction, your extended slats, loaded with 227 passengers, 12 crew, your hold full of luggage.  You who climbed 35,000 feet and vanished from tracking records while still climbing, dear 777, they say I should let you lie

with the government that guarded your secrets, your black silk underwear, your clandestine terrorist lover, your hidden hijacker, your inner fire, dear you who turned back when you should not have turned, unless

there wasn’t a spark when there shouldn’t have been, the pilots didn’t asphyxiate, didn’t lose their minds, if

there was a secret mission, if you crossed the Indian Ocean, climbed Everest, and landed somewhere on Shangri La, if you would write back to me, dear you, so much to answer for, you

carrying my friend, flying for the first time, still grieving.  She’d even named the baby.  When you took off, how your light reflected onto her face.  How she yearned for you to lift her over those mountains, across that water.

40 Days Gone

This is when it does not help

to speak. Or to stay

 

silent. When the roosters

you drew come to roost

 

in the mud below the waves,

when your drowned plum blossoms bloom

 

and close. When your son

crouches on the floor, head in hands, below

 

a picture of your missing plane

on which he has written:

 

Dear father, please be back home

safely.  This is when he listens

 

for your roosters, blindly seeks

the scent of plum. When

 

we have no right to travel

with him. When prayer

 

when prophesy, when why

when the clouds slowly

 

write your name. When the sky

erases it.

A Lotus Flower, Fully Open

Long have I guarded you, the treasures

of the study.  My ink brush,

ink, paper, ink stone.  After the exhibition in Kuala Lumpur,

I drank shots of Xifengjiu.  Tonight, I sang in the airport bus.

Still half drunk, I boarded, ready

to carry you home.

 

When we lost communication, I held you, painting

the three symbols of crisis, ending

with an upward sweep.  As smoke began seeping

from the pilot’s cabin, I drew fire:  A tree standing

in flame.  As I breathed smoke, I knew I had to begin

the symbols to drag us toward death.  I wonder

 

in the thousands of years of our art, how many others have passed on

holding you, ready to finish the last stroke of

Those Who Will Not Be Found

Bluefin 21 is not blue. It has no fins. It looks

like a big, yellow bomb

 

with a beanie on top. It looks

for Flight 370 in the South Indian Ocean, diving down

 

14,800 feet. The South Indian Ocean is 15,000 feet deep.

Below the Bluefin, the dead plane

 

ferries 227 ghost passengers and 12 ghost crew

in their sea bed. Bound for a soft landing

 

in the black marsh at the center

of us all.