'After Pintauro', a new poem by Eileen Chong

After Pintauro


And on my travels I came across
a boy holding his purple heart
in his hands like a broken cup. I touched
the handle – it turned into a bluebird
and tottered away on unsteady
feet. The boy unfolded
himself into a crane and tucked
his head under a wilted wing. His leg, a post
from which a flag flew red, blue and white.
I lowered the flapping thing onto the ground

and it spread out like ink. It was the cold
of the black-and-white tiles of my mother’s kitchen
seeping through my bare feet. I was
a knight. The morning sun laid
its hard hand across the breakfast toast
in stripes. The cat sneezed fairies
as it washed the plates with its whiskers. I asked
for a map. It was lowered on a glistening line
through a searing heart-shaped hole
in the sky. God loves you. I traced

my travels with tendrils of thyme.
When I got to where I was
my hands were helium and I was floating …
The air was cotton candy and kissed me
stickily. Then I spied you waiting
on the broad bank, cradling a rainbow.
I let the air escape my hands
and landed in the middle
of the bedroom you’d unfolded
like a rusty accordion. We curled

up in the soft sheets like stoats
in the dark. Now we sleep
to dream of life. In the morning
cabbages will shed their leaves
like jackets, trousers, petticoats.
You’ll simmer a cauldron
of silver stars and I, I will weave
you stories from gossamer
and dew. Wait now – the cat’s
coughed an elf. Wake now.



Eileen Chong

Eileen Chong

Eileen Chong is a Sydney poet who was born in Singapore of Chinese descent. She speaks English, Singlish, Mandarin, and Hokkien, but only writes in English. Chong took a Master of Letters at the University of Sydney and was a recipient of an Australian Postgraduate Award for a Doctorate in Creative Arts at Western Sydney University. She eventually left her academic studies to write poetry full-time. Her poetry collections are Burning Rice (2012), Peony (2014), and Painting Red Orchids (2016), all from Pitt Street Poetry, Sydney. 

Individual poems of Chong’s have been recognised in major poetry prizes, shortlisting for the Newcastle Poetry Prize, shortlisting twice for the Peter Porter Poetry Prize, and longlisting three times for the University of Canberra's Vice-Chancellor's Prize, among others. Chong's books have been shortlisted for the Anne Elder Award, the Australian Arts in Asia Award, the Victorian Premier's Literary Award, and twice for the Prime Minister's Literary Award. 

Chong is the first Asian-Australian poet to have a book published in the Braziller Series of Australian Poets by George Braziller in New York: this was Another Language (2017). Her latest book is The Uncommon Feast (2018), a collection of essays, poems, and recipes, published by Recent Work Press, Canberra.

A new collection of poems, Rainforest, is forthcoming in April 2018 with Pitt Street Poetry, Sydney.

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