Monthly Archives: September 2016


She lost her uncle last week.

Today she carries her nephew, Miguel, in her arms. He’s so soft, so tiny, so red. She holds him and she feels him nestling within the crook of her elbows. She gazes at his small round face and as the gaze shifts to his pajamas, her heart freezes:

yellow crabs against a grey background.

Nobody hears the hitch in her throat.

crab 2


Wax. Her first thought when she sees him through the glass. She stares. She’s supposed to pray in her head but her head says “Wax.” A pearl is pressed between his lips and his eyelids is glued shut. He lies, so, so still.

So, so still.



The little girl carefully tiptoes around the orange-and-red swarm of tiny soldier crabs. A large crab (yet still the size of her little toe) furiously waved its harmless scarlet claws at her while the rest scrambled to safety.

She giggles at its silly antics and brings down her own scarlet “claw”: a red plastic shovel used to make sandcastles for the crabs. A small smack on the sand. No thunder roared–only a tiny smack like swatting a mosquito. The not-so-big crab is a mess of orange.

She scoops up the tinier ones in her palm. They try to run and pinch but she doesn’t notice. She runs back to her mother, relaxing on a blue picnic mat.

The phone rings and her mother answers. 

Her Uncle has Stage Four cancer. She tilts her head in confusion. She remembers the zodiac signs–Cancer the Crab. Her Uncle has a crab? Well, they all loved seafood, it was no wonder he had a crab lodged between his throat and stomach. 

Is it a big crab? Yes, they say. It’s causing him pain. He can’t eat. She imagines a orange-and-red soldier crab–only bigger–waving his scarlet claw in a fury.

Was this a retribution for all those crabs she killed? she wonders. But they wouldn’t be caught so she had to kill them. 

The crabs struggle to get out of the large yellow container packed with sand. It’s a mad rush of orange stacked on red and red stacked on orange as they climb onto one another, scrambling to escape.

The girl watches them. Fascinated. Confused. By her power; by their weakness.

She observes the way their spindly legs tap dances on the sand. She studies their black beady eyes that don’t reflect anything. She frowns. Do they even have a soul? Why does nature give bright colours to such brittle bodies?

If they were duller, maybe she wouldn’t be as fascinated, she tells herself.

But as the girl grows up and returns to the beach once again, she is reminded of her younger self. The younger self that killed. The image of a crab is no longer that of a toy, a source of food.

As the countless immortal hordes of orange and red once again swamp the beach, she no longer chases them with relentless vigor. She just stands and observes; picks one up between her thumb and finger and places it on her palm. She gazes at the tiny crab on her hand that now scuttles away and falls gently into the soft sand below. She tracks its every movement as it scuttles, scuttles, scuttles to rejoin its brethen and watches as it burrows into the moist sand.

Today when she wakes up, her father will tell her Uncle has passed away. 

Today when she wakes up, between the fish and the crab mooncakes, she will choose the crab.

And she will look at it and marvel at how almost life-like it is. It’s the crab her family eats at seafood restaurants, not the small, bug-like crabs she chases at Port Dickson. It still looks real though.


Real. So, so real.


They always said: as you reread a book, its meaning transforms. She always thought it was because as you grew older, you gain a more mature understanding of the text.

She’s wrong.

For when she sees the crab, she sees only pity and regret.



Stephanie: crown

Castle upon the snowcapped mountain
Built from ice and grounded in fear
frost flakes flutter by
No wind howls in the frozen silence
chandelier lights tremble in your presence

A glass cabinet everyone peers to see
An animal trapped in an enclosure
Moving yet never progressing
After all those years of boring lessons
Finally, you are free

Fly, aithusa
to that elfydd that beckons your name.
Answer to no dragonlord or king.
Roar with icy delight
bring your shuddering storm to a new world
a new Albion awaits your breath

for from winter springs life
and begin again.



dead again


razor-thin diamond-cut
steel and sword
unbowed, unstained
by birth and by death

three Fates pivots upon its golden thread
no less like a prima ballerina
brushing over those finger holes
life spins in snips

whistling through the air
whittling down your
shingles of silver shivers

a hot slice across your
a pair of blades tailor
a scarlet button-up

kill her.