Cheng Beng

yesterday was cheng beng
the chinese all souls' day
i was struck by
late grandma's friends
for the first time
they are all so young

at the right
was a cheerful young boy -
the picture was ingratiating
and great

at the left
some young women
churchly type.

well lucky grandma,
has always had
young friends
for companion,

selfishly i told myself.

a brood of us
eleven in all
to call grandchildren

and she was always close to
church - grew up with catholic nuns.

so it should be heavenly
at the cemetery
in the other world
so many young friends
to cheer up day and night.

the woman at
the boy's resting place
coincidentally came
at the same time as us

with weepy eyes
she busied herself
at the bright mosaic;
to and fro, to and fro
wiping out last year's tears
last year's pain and longing
till the little mansion glittered in the sun.
her withheld tears too.

her husband in
a tense reflective mood
lighted and relighted
windblown white candles
as he tried to contain a storm.

the realisation that
they would eventually
black out
to leave him again
in a storm
face to face with
his smiling child
whose voice still echoes
in an empty chamber
in his heart
day and night.

the raging storm
spilt over to this side.

as birds twitter
under the clear blue sky
i pray to the holy spirit
to bless us all -
those standing
as well as those
in their peaceful chambers -
without making any difference.

by john tiong chunghoo

Comments (2)

This is a really beautiful poem, great descriptions, feelings, insights and yet astounding at the end with the line - 'without making any difference.' Lovely work John.
It has a lapping rhythm, like lake water on the prow of a canoe. Bless us all!