Is it a dream or is it a poem? by Zhi Yi Cham

I think it was a Sunday when I dreamt I was eating nasi lemak in a sunny canteen. I wake, with a need to tell someone. And because I’ve been texting him, I text him:

Z: dreamt of eating nasi lemak in a sunny canteen tho so that was magic *crying emoji*

L: Sounds like a vivid dream! Don’t think I’ve ever had a food dream before or had nasi lemak either… it looks good though!

How strange is it to impart a fullness within yourself upon someone else, and for that to be utterly vacated in them, zero context rails to latch itself onto. Nasi lemak in sunny canteen, just five words bounding around a dark TV screen like a screensaver.

R: did u get that feeling like when u describe a dream to someone and they look completely nonplussed even though it was a big deal?

Can it be taught? What that feels like, growing up eating nasi lemak bungkus?

Can a dream* choke another as it has me?

*Say dream but mean: poem; say poem, mean: vessel, mean: lightning in a bottle, mean:

I am here, I once was, I will remain so, calcified.

The times I believe myself to be unknowable and impossible (all the time), I save myself; I save myself for a poem. If I alchemise my person into poem, can I finally be known?

put me in your dream-mouth
drench me in your dream-saliva

wrap me in your dream-tongue

chew me with your dream-teeth
eat me, or: 

    i want you to know me

I write, so when I say:

I woke up from a dream in which I was eating nasi lemak in a sunny canteen

The following is known:

  • Say sunny, mean: warmed cheeks, feeling younger than i am today, hair: drier, less expensive;
  • Say canteen, mean: laminated wood under bare forearms, green: obscenely ripe beyond perimeter of the tiled floors;
  • Say nasi lemak, mean: heat of sambal, fragrance of santan, perfection of hardboiled egg in this occasion;
  • Woke up, or: the lingering taste of sugared anchovies startling me awake – these are not the right anchovies for nasi lemak, not the thick crunchy bones of them. The ones in my dream-mouth were delicate, sugar-heightened salt.

So, when I say:

dreamt of eating nasi lemak in a sunny canteen tho so that was magic *crying emoji*

When I say magic, I really mean magic; I really mean I travelled through time and was bahagia.

Say bahagia / 幸福 xìng fú or hamfok, mean something like bread rising in the oven, something like smoothing out the edge of a freshly ironed shirt, something like a long good hug with a beloved person, something like warmth in all its iterations.

All this to say, I write as evidence – to want to be known, want to be seen, want to be heard is an act of hope.

Zhi is present.