[the poetry billboard] - 'The Way to 205 East Coast Road' by April Ma
The Way to 205 East Coast Road

April Ma

It was a long day, if you ask me.
And Iím writing this to you.

First, I woke up with my husbandís feet right up in my face.
I went to the kitchen for two Panadols,
for the headache from Iím not sure where;
it mustíve been the same darn thing repeated throughout my 36 years.
I drank a cup of Ye Ye coffee and smoked a cigarette
and took my thyroid pill that is supposed to make me feel up and alive.
Then I was braiding my daughterís hair who kept saying
I must say sorry whenever she says ouch.
Then I was thinking about my last working day
and Billy the Bastard who hasnít replied for 2 weeks after interviewing me 3 times.

I hurried off for breakfast with Verne,
the proofreader of my short story written in frustrated non-native English.
Hearing her talk about her anxiety about a womanís poverty after divorce,
I think I laughed a little, but Verne, I mostly agreed with you.
I just didnít know how to respond to your words with my mouth all dry.
So I sipped a little water and told her about the state of my health,
but she couldnít seem to believe it and had no time for the background story.
We were late for the Peranakan breakfast and the poetry reading;
we were waiting at the wrong place.
It didnít really surprise Verne, or me
as if that was what weíve been doing all our lives.

Bilingualism in Poetry didnít really talk about bilingualism in poetry.
It only mentioned the question of translating a piece into a different language.
And they were talking in Chinese, Mira. Not only that, but
with Starbucks grinding ice in a mixer, one couldnít hear a thing
The two hours there were certainly not the best Iíve ever spent and
I was thinking that was my last 2 dollar parking coupon, and
I didnít know where to go till the poetry reading in the evening.
Have you applied for the job Iíve told you about?
Youíd better do it before your 3 month-contract is over.
I drove 30 minutes to Miraís apartment just to stay for 30 minutes.
She watched me drink coffee and smoke a cigarette and
I watched her drink wine and smoke a cigarette. I said bye.

And, at 7 p.m., there I was, at 205 East Coast Road.
Just before entering the room I smoothed down my hair and patted on my oily cheeks.
Sure, my hair was as messy as Jessi the poodle next door,
but there mustíve been some other reason for me to be so self-conscious.
Did I expect a couple hours of instant liberation?
I walked up the stair cases of a two story shophouse
to listen to poems written by poets who were not poets when they were born and
for a moment I forgot about my car illegally parked in an alley.
I clapped my hands and cheered the female poetís performance.
Oh, her name was Dinah, and sitting at the same table were David and Martin.
One of them told me that Iíd better get used to rejection. I was thinking Iíd already got used to
rejection, all kinds of it, in fact, but I could only give them my native smile.
When it was over, it was almost 10, and I was drop dead tired but drove back home.

Yes, it was a long day, if you ask me, yes, it was.
And Iím writing this to you at this odd hour.