Po Po’s House

by Sandra Faith Tan

It was the guzheng music issuing from a busker I passed on the street:

I recalled my po po’s house, where wayang music

filtered through the window on its strung and ringing notes,

the spare bedroom

stoppered in dim time, receding from the age,

the bed covered with crinkly, faded plastic sheeting

over pasar malam flower-patterned bedsheet.

Rattan chair striving in the room to bear

my gong gong’s weight, sided by the television

playing a late-night charity performance—

or perhaps the screen had fallen silent

with the house and only the stale night’s billow

sought timidly, weaving the rooms and screens.

To my recall, further, comes the porcelain flower-vase

standing taller than a child with its mysterious mouth

into which I never could peer. The kitchen which,

in communal lunar new year, numerous plates

would be spread, each bearing a family’s dish,

and the table would vanish under the food.

Even the metal pots on the stove would brim

afield with customary soup and dark sauces.

And the pair of inexpensive matryoshka dolls

po po kept in the bottom drawer— I had no toys

there, in her house, save a plastic treasury

of Happy Meal figurines and other small beings

I had outgrown. I remember her drawing them

from their musty plastic bags and settling them

on the floor. Here, in her slow mandarin

pacing with my unused ears, I only have these

but they are good to play with.


Po Po’s House

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