Priscilla Chueng-Nainby is one of the poets we chose to feature for National Poetry Day 2009.
Priscilla Chueng-Nainby was born to Chinese parents in Malaysia. Now settled in Edinburgh, she writes poetry in both Chinese and English. Her thoughts and her writings draw on nature imagery from the Malaysian tropics and the four seasons of the British Isles.
These two poems are taken from 'Hope / Truth', published by Lemongrass Hut.
Priscilla says: 'Hope / Truth is my first poetry pamphlet written in both English and Chinese language. The poems in this collection explored the double themes of hope — the unreasonable; and truth — the reasonable.
'"Fled" was written at the Meadows walk in Edinburgh on one fine early summer afternoon when blossoms were cascading down onto the full bloomed dandelions. The poem reflects my seeking of cultural root due to grandparents' emigration from China to Malaysia, and later of my move from Malaysia to the UK. It was first written in Chinese and translated to English.'
Larger poem image
a little yellow dandelion on the meadows raised her head
and sneered at the cherry blossom next to her:
'you are boringly the same every year —
and then disappeared!'
a pink cherry-blossom petal floating in mid-air replied with red face:
'are we not the same?
boringly every year —
and then disappeared?'
a mature dandelion shaking her dreamlike white clock
'the difference between you and me is distance —
I fly everywhere,
to Chang's backyard,
in Lee's flowerpots
you can spot me anywhere
but you can only stay where you are'
Cherry tree bent her head to glance at a few blossom petals and asked:
'well then, why did you flee so far away to root?'
Priscilla says: '"The howling castle" is a poem about marriage when love becomes an institution.'
The howling castle
all we hear is howling, yelling and moaning,
scrawling at the sight of rusty cast-iron bars
our words stumbling down the stairs of fear piling
on the skeletons of our previous selves into a mass
resonating high and low in the wind chambers
of two towers spiralling tall at opposite ends of our castle
off a sleepy tree-lined windy path we paved to fall,
drilling into our everyday living of serial, menial and trivial
that every nail, every tile, every stilt, every stone
were bubbles from our bath — a disappearing burst
waited in our eyes, rusting past the cast-iron bars
into the air choked by howling winds, met in resilience
you named this castle 'Prison'