What is home?
Forty years of morning, noon, and night.
Tell me about your childhood.
Thirty-seven mouths open under a tin roof.
What is happiness?
Eighteen in my sailor suit, spray from the waterfall—
Why did you marry?
Five years of coins.
How many tears?
One thousand, eight hundred, and ninety-eight pearls.
Do you love your mother?
Two hands, ten fingers, six children.
How many miles have you come?
Sixty-four thousand and twenty-five gull-wings.
Do you love me?
The rain falling, falling, over thirteen thousand dawns.
Eileen Chong is the author of eight books. Her most recent full-length collection of poetry is Rainforest (Pitt Street Poetry). She has collaborated with the photographer Charlene Winfred on Map-Making, a limited edition artist’s book of poems and photographs about Singapore. Her work has shortlisted for several awards. See <www.eileenchong.com.au>.