by Arfah Daud
After Pablo Naruda
Green against another green,
the meadows. And against the field
some purple flowers.
Spring arrives wildly.
the mountains may dominate, their eternal
height, their purpose,
when the shoots
of sky lupine
from the soil,
we look at them in wonder.
They blanket the entire countryside,
In the end we’re like them—
a living thing
Like them we’re just dirt,
neither more nor less
by Arfah Daud
At the empty house, I remember our first car,
sage green Fiat 600, license number JL 8663,
parked under a carport covered with purple
morning glories. Black beetles flying in and out.
Driving home one day in heavy rain the windshield
wiper jammed. We tied strings at both ends
to pull the wiper in a two-step beat to reach
the old rented house in the Chinese neighborhood.
Looking back, Blackie, the neighbor’s dog, barked
all the time, especially when my sister and I stood
on a wooden plank, hanging on to a wire fence to watch
Lassie through the neighbor’s glass window.
Balancing her umbrella, the Chinese grandma tip-toed
on her “lotus” feet to the street corner every afternoon.
She lighted red joss-sticks and placed food for the gods;
neighborhood boys always plundered her offerings.
Looking back, the bread man came daily at two, sounding
his bicycle horn, his huge basket behind him. Children ran
after him reaching for the goodies hanging from the edge.
Warm bread with sugar sprinkled on top, buns, curry puffs.
Black and white photos left to fade in large biscuit tins.
Family afternoon teas, imported goods, the convent:
Reverend Mother, nuns in white habit and wimple,
our daily prayers and my dream of going to England.
by Arfah Daud
There was always someone in the garden
late afternoon—a blurred image. Mother maybe.
Warm days of short walks, crossing
to the other side of the creek; the bridge,
two tree trunks lay side by side.
Laughing and screaming, we’d balance ourselves,
walk in single file, hands outstretched.
Before reaching the garden, we’d run up and down
the grassy green slopes, play hide-and-go-seek,
and walk ’round and ’round under trees
until the world spun. We’d lie down
in the open field looking up at the sky,
pointing as clouds separated and changed.
Dry leaves caught in our clothes and hair.
Years later, I’d hear the birds calling
siap, siap, siap each morning. Get ready, get ready,
get ready. Cats on the breakfast table stealing
buttered toast, spilling tea. Outside my window,
a low sound of water dripping onto the sodden earth.
Mesmerized, I would lie awake and listen: my mother
watering her garden, showering the leaves.
When we were young.
When she was still around.
Here in Kuala Lumpur, the new airport is designed
by someone whose name I cannot remember.
His idea, broad-leaf foliage planted inside,
a great ambition. Giant taros with huge green
leaves, the botanical name unpronounceable,
other plants I don’t even know.
Stepping out off the airport tram, first-time tourists
look in amazement at forest held inside glass corridors.
Locals, glad to be home, walk hurriedly out.
Like a tourist I walk slowly by admiring, admiring
and learning the names of each native plant:
Colocasia esculenta illustris, Angiopteris evecta
Asplenium nidus . . .
Arfah Daud was born and raised in Malaysia and currently lives
in the United States. Her poems have appeared in Susan B and Me,
Byzantium, Spillway, Sin Fronteras, and the New Plains Review.
Daud received her MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles.
On “Three Views of a Garden”:
This poem started out as three individual poems. In my initial
drafts, written after my mother passed away, I wrote about
earlier childhood memories of her. Then I wrote about my
teenage years. Finally, after frequent visits to my home country,
I began to write about Malaysia and the significant changes I
observed, especially in the new airport in Kuala Lumpur.
Looking at the three poems separately, I realized that they share
common elements, and that each one flows into the next. I
decided to combine them into one poem.
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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Volume 10, Number 2
Copyright © 2015
by Leah Browning, Editor.
All future rights to material
published in the Apple
Valley Review are retained
by the individual authors
OF A GARDEN