At The Doctor's Office
By Reza Rosli
The rain has stopped and the afternoon sun is out, baking the moist ground with its heat. Looking out the window at the doctor's office I see my car.
Like a droplet of quicksilver arrested escaping its wild descent groundwards never quite intersecting with the plane that stopped its fall but flows on wildly whole, it does not resist. Drenched in sunlight, cloaked in shimmering vapour, reflected in the dark puddles on the steaming road, it is the world caught in the space of an inversion between a mirror and the eye: a Fata Morgana — don't go near, it might disappear — it is a condensate, not-quite-solid. It is a chimaera or, better than a mythical beast, it's an alchemical bauble of argentum and lapis lazuli, magicked to be set adrift whilst immobile. What force could hold this wonder — can we be certain it would not just silently slide away, its inertia broken by a whimsical wind, to be merrily swept away, bobbing willy-nilly on its course, so if breathed life: it is like a gleaming tadpole sha-sha-ing its way down the river, and what a shoal-stopper she'll be.
Two girls: at their age looking as all girls their age do; to me at my age, looking the same as all girls their age do. Seemingly sisters, looking alike as they do. Coming this way from the grocer's, they drift from their course to stand before the car. The taller one steps in, peers inside, then steps out and sees the reflection of her self, framed in rakish silver.
What female heart can resist? She pulls out a blue comb from her pocket, and starts to preen.
© 2008 Reza Rosli
from Voices from the Underground
Listen to Reza reading this poem:
Reza Rosli: Prose poems is a strange genre of poetry, and this is what I intended to explore when I crafted this piece. This poem first took form as a free-writing exercise as I was waiting for a friend at a clinic one afternoon. It was just raining and, like in the poem, I was mesmerised by the steam rising from the road outside, and by the reflections on the water on the road surface. My car-- a blue and silver Smart ForFour, a car designed to look like a teardrop -- was parked right outside, and I was just thinking about how the car's silver frame around the doors and windows made it look like some kind of giant mirror... when serendipitously a couple of girls came to look at the car and one of them started to comb her hair, using the window as a mirror. It felt like a poetic moment, so I took out my pen and wrote what I saw -- a playful musing that, in the subsequent polishing and editing, with some liberal use of imagery and judicious choice of words, became a study of what I think makes a prose poem.
I sometimes allude to other poems in my writing, joining them in a kind of literary conversation. This poem, with the line "what female heart can resist", refers to Thomas Gray's lines in On The Death Of A Favourite Cat, Drowned In A Tub Of Gold Fishes: "what female heart can gold despise? / what cat's averse to fish?", points to what amused me so much about the girls that I decided to write about them. Perhaps there is something to be said when we think about the things around us, in a lopsided riff on the lines,
From hence, ye beauties undeceived,
Know, one false step is ne'er retrieved,
And be with caution bold.
Not all that tempts your wand'ring eyes
And heedless hearts is lawful prize;
Nor all that glisters, gold.
... when not everything is always what it seems... when a car is not just a car: for a poet, a vehicle for expression; for some people, a mirror for their vanity.
Reza Rosli is, by day, an entrepreneur, audiovisual systems designer, programmer, and, by night, a practising poet and aspiring theatre-maker. He blogs occasionally, at Puisi-Poesy, a poetry appreciation blog. He is also a member of Poetry Underground, a collective of performance poets in Klang Valley who aim to bring the experience of poetry to a wider audience.
You can read more of Reza's works in a new poetry anthology Voices from the Underground.
The book will be officially launched on the 25th October, 2008, at 3.30 pm, at The Seksan Gallery at 67, Jalan Tempinis Satu, Lucky Garden, Bangsar, 59100 Kuala Lumpur.
Go see Reza in person - and possibly listen to him read - live!!
(Voices from the Underground also features other members of Poetry Underground, including our own Chroniclers, Pey Pey Oh and Sheena Baharudin.)