Edward



Track 3.236.83.154 (0)


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Gwee Li Sui is a poet, graphic artist and literary critic. He wrote Singapore’s first full-length comic-book novel, _Myth of the Stone_ (1993), and published a volume of humorous verse, _Who Wants to Buy a Book of Poems?_ (1998). A familiar name in Singapore’s literary scene, he has written essays on a range of cultural subjects and edited _Sharing Borders: Studies in Contemporary Singaporean-Malaysian Literature II_(2009), _Telltale: Eleven Stories_ (2010) and _Man/Born/Free: Writings on the Human Spirit from Singapore_ (2011). Edward by Gwee Li Sui Let me tell you the story Of Edward the transvestite; Anonymous in the day, Extremely famous at night. Edward worked in a nightclub They called The Cherry Blossom; Looked especially feminine, Especially his bosom. Each night Edward caught the spot; He did the twirly-whirly; Turned and blushed and threw a wink: He knew how to be girly. The towkays loved to embrace him; Their sons paid to take him out; They pinched his rotund bottom Just to hear his girlish shout. Edward lived all by himself In an Arab Street apartment; He was modest, simpled-hearted, Acquainted with contentment. Each dawn he was exhausted; Would fall on his bed to sleep; The birds were at the window; He did not hear them cheep. In the warm mid-afternoon He would do his marketing; Once free, would go for a stroll; Sometimes you might hear him whistling. The neighbours hardly knew him; Edward was too soft-spoken; But they were hardly friendly; Their doors were seldom open. By five he had washed up; he knew Cleanliness was holiness; By six he had his stockings on And his little scarlet dress. By six-thirty he was walking Down to the Cherry Blossom; The men on the street observed His swinging rotund bottom. He sang, he danced and he drank And played with his fingers too; Sometimes when they tempted him, He gave them a peekaboo. Though the sun may fall and rise, The times, they were a-changing; Scaffoldings were mounting soon To instigate a beginning. The roads were rolling wider; There were more professionals; Acres turned into assets Of the multinationals. But by dawn Edward was worn; Would fall on his bed to sleep; Changes were at his window; He did not hear them creep. The market was first to go To make room for some building; Things were no longer the same; The shopkeepers were packing. In the warm mid-afternoon Edward went now to market In an air-con supermart, A few dollars in the pocket. He went for his usual strolls In a large shopping complex; Sometimes you might hear him whistling: It was natural reflex. At five he seldom washed up To keep his rent a dollar less; By six he had his stockings on And his little scarlet dress. By six-thirty he was walking Down to the Cherry Blossom To greet the ageing patrons Of his unhinging stardom. The towkays still embraced him, But their sons were not around; They were now rocking elsewhere To the beat of another sound. And soon The Cherry Blossom Went the way of closing down; It withered under the hear, The demands of downtown. Edward now stayed home at night In his Arab Street apartment; He looked out of his window, Which was his entertainment. He dreamt about the heyday Of Edward the transvestite; Anonymous in the day, Now anonymous at night. In the day he went out to work With the other odd-jobbers; He carried near-everything From cargo to newspapers. The week’s bread he earned by sweat; His soft hands grew coarse and hard; He was employed to plant trees Along the new boulevard. Edward was simple-hearted; He did only as he was told; Each dawn he grew more fatigued; He knew he was growing old. The rent of his apartment Was soon a serious burden; He sold off his belongings; His trunk was almost barren. In days the trunk was also pawned; The room pitch dark and bare; He thought about a pendant That was no longer there. The night was blue and silent; By the window he did spy; He wondered how things would be If he looked in from the sky. Today the street looks different From that which Edward knew; The boulevard is divine Seen from yet another view. I walk the street this evening; Chance a frame of loneliness: An old man by a window In a little scarlet dress.

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