Carol Chan is Singaporean. Her writing has been performed and published in Singapore, Edinburgh and Melbourne, including Meanjin, WetInk, and Quarterly Literary Review Singapore. She’s currently researching her honours thesis in anthropology at the University of Melbourne.





Two Drifters


There is no room for adventure
now, you say. Everything
has been discovered. There is nothing left
that hopes to be found; we were born
too late to be heroes now.
But the British were not the only dreamers
and explorers; only think
what India must have known
before the British claimed this knowledge
as their own. This history was lying
there all along, safe in the precious day.
India was not an imagined country,
nor have we invented the other.
What I’m trying to tell you now, love,
is that there is still room enough
for us to be heroes yet.



Getting to Vienna


The night we missed our flight to Slovakia, we lay
in Edinburgh, thinking of the still pair of empty seats
on the plane that has always been leaving;
those two unslept beds that will never know
the weight of ourselves;
the unwalked streets, unembraced cold of Slovakia
in the morning that will come.
That morning came. We caught another flight to Prague
instead, not to get to Prague, but to find ourselves
on the Vienna-bound train, back on track,
why we meant to go to Slovakia at all.
This wasn’t how things were supposed to be.
It is only now that we remember who creates the world
by the second. This train moves no-one but our bodies
towards a place of our dreaming.
This world, these possible worlds, are in our hands,
at our feet. On the moon. Somewhere,
a phone is ringing, and the news depends
on whoever there is to answer it.



What We Talk About


How to brew coffee. With a kopi-sock,
or a press-pot. What a press-pot is.
In winter, we talk about winter.
Anthropology. Poetry.
Suppressed sentiments in Bedouin desert tribes.
Identify these in our own.
We talk about scientists trying
to make things work, though not so much
the trying. How we brew coffee.