for M. Heeremans
Windmills, with their latticed, sweeping arms,
hand-painted onto miniature porcelain clogs.
The child I was wore them proudly, in still-tender
earlobes pierced on a twelfth birthday. The blue and white
of Delft, borrowed from China’s Ming dynasty.
From a distance, the earrings looked like silvered pearls.
Our shophouse in Singapore was narrow and deep,
its width a hand-me-down decree from the Dutch colonials
in Melaka. Sambal is a popular ingredient for sandwiches
in Holland. My friend cooks a beef rendang her mother
taught her to make in their home outside Amsterdam.
Tau gay is our odd, shared word for beansprouts.
The earrings nestle now in a wind-up jewellery box
that plays ‘My Favourite Things’. A Dutch seafarer gave up
his name to the Tasman. The lowlands: fertile, flooded plains.
The arms of the windmills turning: the days are passing strange.