Kan Ren Jie
He cleans every Sunday, the stray strands
of a mop curling in blackness. A glimmer of
of dripped liquorice, gaudy sweetness
tinged with ritual. A liturgy for the sterile. A hymn for the capsule. This sacrament
of lemon curling to droplets, oozing sour rain, like forced memory of healing.
He washes off the squawk: a crow that stirs at dawn, its cries that drowns delirium. He hears
the blaring: radios, dying embers of television a minister flattened in white, drowned
by a cough. This is the cleaning of a Sunday noon: where the week is washed
of its scars. When leaving home he feels fear in the weeds: its overgrown shoots thrust round a neck like a garland. A slow tightening. This wildness
drapes the skin, shedding off mouths like thin depressions, potholes
floating inhuman. He asked for a haircut that evening. He asked for a barber, the harsh buzz
a Number One that fades to Zero. So now he cleans off the sky with Dettol, striking the floor as battle.
The cheap blur of lemon-lavender thinning as consolation. A mop lying wrenched
of essence. A shaved head, the harsh buzz of white.
The grimace of his barber. The sweating forehead, a patch sour like wine. Cleaning is erasure:
where skin peels, rust thickening the nails as ripples. Here is the dim flaring of fear. He dips the mop in water. He embraces clean.
Kan Ren Jie writes poetry and fiction. He recently graduated from Yale-NUS College in Singapore, majoring in Literature and Creative Writing, and currently works at New York Shanghai as a Global Writing and Speaking Fellow. In his writing, Ren Jie engages with and explores questions about culture, religiosity, and the experience and narratives that surround familial life.