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.