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Baju Rafflesia

Each day I sat at the kids’ table

Unravelled seven Rafflesias

of padded fabric rejects,

unexhibited, BiCentennial past.

Each disc of Solo batik find a new form

as a lion head.

Second life as life size

puppet, a child’s crown fit.

Licking my wound, thinking of Cina Kapitan Tan JinSeng,

Bupati in 1830 when Raffles invaded.

In August a murmur of Chinese Privilege silenced.

The Burmese and Vietnamese immigrant children took turns

To test out the monster head, whose coat of scallops

once stiff Rafflesia petals,

now ends in a fan tail.

Rekaan Merlion Singapura.

Later we made

another Barong Sai

out of donated clothing.

Each coloured petal now a joy ride on the Brother machine

with the kids, who have grown used to me as a fixture.

when I told them

this is no vocational skill to prepare you

for adulthood.


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