Jul/Aug 2004 Poetry

The Passage of Black

by Arlene Ang

The Passage of Black

At fourteen my daughter decided to embrace death.
Her wardrobe, opening like the reaper's cloak,
swallowed light. This flagged the dark period.

For weeks she repainted walls. Despite several
coatings, Puff the Magic Dragon continued to flash
bright mint wings, the whitescape of Honah Lee.

I was accused of being a sleepwalker. No offense,
Mum. Wake up and smell the stench.
A sleek belt
snaked the words existential agony around her waist.

That's when I knew she had been copulating postmortem
with Beckett, even Eliot, on the teacher's desk:
vampires who impale every pliant virgin on stilted words.

Obsessed with depression, she worked on chain-smoking,
psychoanalysis, rarefied bulimia, twirled prescription
bottles like batons, excelled in being misunderstood.

For months I emptied dishes she refused to eat,
held my breath, waited for the stage to pass.
Eventually a boy in her class phoned, asked her out.


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