the Thazin orchid is beautiful

On the Myanmar coup d’état, 2021

We walked to Gardens by the Bay¹ that night
within the domes we perched on the verge
of stasis; hungry the camera snapped once, twice

She told me poets in her house are shot,
the side of her cheek tender
lashes acrid. The Thazin² orchid
Have you seen it? Myanmar was not at peace to her
so she swallowed it and made it so. She
swallowed the bitter grain of news clippings
the deaf husks of static come to
commiserate through the radio. I turned away to let her

Did you know, the Thazin orchid is beautiful
She asked me what it meant to bleed. I did not want to know
so that night she drew red and the water in it: the iron in her
native soil – the slick overripe hope
sticky with perennial dissent – the night
macerated to uneasy sleep. I saw, I shot, but dared not

Did you know, the Thazin orchid is beautiful
I bought her a Vanda Miss Joaquim³ frozen in acrylic
but she laughed and said
I just wanted to go home
My Burmese hands, you still want to hold them?
Yes, yes, of course I do, but
Before the sun has set upon us
the Thazin orchid would be beautiful
In the veins of cells but not prisons
In the lens of strangers’ tears.

¹ Gardens by the Bay: A nature park in the central region of Singapore. A popular tourist attraction.
² Thazin orchid: One of the national flowers of Myanmar.
³ Vanda Miss Joaquim: An orchid and the national flower of Singapore.

Cheryl Tan is a 16-year-old Singaporean of Chinese and Indian descent. She has been published in Amber: The Teenage Chapbook, sourcherrymag and Eye on the World, an anthology by the Creative Arts Programme, Singapore, among others. In her free time she writes poems and social commentaries by the sea, and hopes to become a writer someday.


Visual art by Adiya Nabiyeva


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