I only have mouth ulcers when
I want to eat oranges.
Even now, as I write this poem I want
To eat oranges.
My friend once wrote a poem
About oranges; the bitter peel of the fruit,
Some memory of her father:
The ash taste, the ash flesh.

Today I met a girl who was not
Sad, or bad, or mad,
She was just 
While wearing a funny hat
While speaking with a funny mouth.
At the park we tried to talk
I climbed the jacaranda tree.
In my awkwardness, she seemed to think
I was going to jump.

But I did not
I took my mouth ulcers home
Where I mostly pretend to be English.
At home I watch an English television show,
I eat the thick, white bread,
I only drink teas with milk.
In the next room, my beleaguered father
Falls asleep. He is growing old.

But when I was young, he told me a story
About a boy and a tree full of orange blossoms.

I no longer remember it now, but then,
It made me cry.
—  Yiwei Chai, Oranges

The Lost Charm | 2016

Tanjung Balai, I’m afraid, has lost its appeal to me. I used to think that it was my favorite place on earth, and yet now, here I am, wondering why I’m sitting here wondering about this. The charm of this small town, its beauty of abandonment and the lack of urgency, has somehow turned into an inescapable boredom. The sense of peace that I used to feel whenever I’m here, is now a feeling of emptiness.