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Paper Boats | Eileen Chong

after Bing Xin

They say the first year is for paper—

I have saved you all my poems.

The moon is full behind the clouds.

I fold each sheet along unseen lines.

Lengthwise, in half; here, a triangle.

Push, like this, and open it, carefully.

Little boats, with a shelter on each end.

What will stop them from breaking on rocks?

At the water, I bend and lower each craft into

the stream. The current takes hold immediately.

The grass is flattened where I have knelt.

Along the bank, the earth has turned into mud.

I follow each white fragment as it floats

downriver. Words are heavy. Paper boats sink.

Eileen Chong is a Sydney poet who was born in Singapore. She is the author of eight books. Her most recent poetry collection is Rainforest, from Pitt Street Poetry. She has shortlisted for the Anne Elder Award, the Victorian Premier's Literary Award, and twice for the Prime Minister's Literary Award.

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