And Other Rivers
Lee Jing Jing



22 January 2021—22 January 2022


Poem and poetry reading from And Other Rivers,
2015, Published by Math Paper Press.


In And Other Rivers, lives are carved open from tip to tail and laid out for display. A child watches her father perform a lunar new year ritual. First-generation migrants swim for shore. A woman dives into fast flowing water. This collection of poetry is about fluid longings, and about the searches and meanderings one embarks on to fulfil those longings. And Other Rivers is a glimpse into the potency of the mother tongue and how activating it through invocations connects one back to ancestry.




Samsui


1

My hair wound itself into a tow chang one night.
As if it had enough —
The smoothing of it by male hands.

I kept at it, resting my neck
on a wooden pillow to keep it untouched.
Took the boat southward not long after.



2

They spoke
from the side of their mouths,
the men. Telling us
The work will be hard,

as if we’d sat on a boat
for months
expecting candied apples on arrival,
rose-petalled water.

They forgot we came from Samsui.
Grew up falling on rock,
watching our mothers
wither away to nothing, flesh

stripped by the flood
that swept homes out to sea.
This? This black mud
weighs nothing.



3

We fed ourselves
jook and choy sim —
the roots and hearts of vegetables;
bitter, sold cheap in armfuls.

All of it boiled three,
four times over. We drank our food,
rims of the bowls melting our teeth.

We would eat tin and clay
if if filled us,
if it did us good.



4

Everything we owned
lasted us years.
Sandals, put together from cloth
and rickshaw tyres.
Our headgears,

wide-brimmed to keep out the sun
and stained red to guard
against cars and men —
you could see us
from streets away.
There were folds inside
for things to keep safe. In mine:
coins, rolls of tobacco,
a letter
from back home.



5

Ah Mui, who slept on one corner of our bed,
cut rubber sheeting
after rocks got too heavy.
The way her hand grew around

her iron shears:
wrist arches, bones wrapped around eye rings
so fast,
we had to pry them from her in the end.





Poetry reading from And Other Rivers, 2015, Published by Math Paper Press.





Lee Jing Jing
Singapore / Netherlands



Born and raised in Singapore, Jing-Jing Lee’s first novel, How We Disappeared, was published by Oneworld in 2019. It has been longlisted for the Women’s Prize, the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, the Singapore Literature Prize and the Historical Writers’ Association Debut Crown. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford and currently lives in Amsterdam with her husband and son.

www.jingjinglee.com
@jingjingwrites