Of the shortest day

What has survived is the belief
that water tastes best today;
the moon offers help through the dark. 

What has survived is the memory,
pullut-rice rolled between palms,
ballcakes in pandan-ginger syrup.

What has survived is the custom,
serving girls even pairs,
adding strength to their futures.

What has survived is the altar,
table lit by red candles,
joss paper burning in the iron pot.

What has survived is together
tasted on the tongue
as ancestors’ faces fade in frames.

by L. Kiew

This week we feature the last of three poems by poets who have appeared in the exciting online festival Poetics of Home – a Chinese Diaspora Poetry Festival which concludes tomorrow (5 October). The festival is co-ordinated by our Brookes colleague Dr Jennifer Wong, and is designed to connect and showcase the diverse works by established and emerging Anglophone poets writing across the Chinese diaspora. The final event, entitled ‘Women Who Write’, features Belle Ling, Tammy Ho, Cynthia Miller, and the Poetry Centre’s own Claire Cox. It is moderated by Jennifer Wong and takes place tomorrow (Tuesday 5 October), from 1-3pm BST. Although tickets are no longer available via Eventbrite, you can contact the organisers for more details of the Zoom link by visiting the Poetics of Home site.The festival is presented in collaboration with Wasafiri and the Institute of English Studies, with the support of the Lottery Fund from Arts Council England. For more details about the festival and to sign up for the events, visit the festival website.

‘Of the shortest day’ is copyright © L. Kiew, 2021. The poem first appeared in The Rialto, issue 95.L. Kiew is a Chinese-Malaysian living in London. She earns her living as an accountant. She holds a MSc in Creative Writing and Literary Studies from Edinburgh University. In 2017, L. Kiew took part in the Poetry School/London Parks and Gardens Trusts Mixed Borders Poets Residency Scheme and the Toast Poetry mentoring programme. She was shortlisted for the 2017 Primers mentoring and publication scheme and was a 2019/20 participant in the London Library Emerging Writers Programme.Her poems have been published in Butcher’s DogInk Sweat and TearsLighthouseObsessed with PipeworkTears in the FenceThe Scores and The North among other magazines and websites.L. Kiew’s collaboration with Michael Weston is included in Battalion, available from Sidekick Books. Her debut pamphlet The Unquiet was published by Offord Road Books in 2019. Find out more about L. Kiew’s work from her website and follow her on Twitter.Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.