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What Happens When We Sing by Bliss Cua Lim

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My throat hurts. I have a raging fever again that needs to be purged. Perhaps a poem from an overdue library book can calm my ills:

What Happens When We Sing
Bliss Cua Lim

(After Bibi)

My girlfriend said,
you cannot produce a sound you haven’t heard,
by way of explaining what happens when we sing,
and alluding to a man in a Chinese opera
who had effortlessly freed a note astounding to her ears.

Her words had weight and sank deep in me.
Those who do not fear to revel, saying,
whatever the price or loss I’ve later to pay
is worth this moment,
have not lived that logic and been seared.
The delicate palpitations of the desirous spirit,
that waits upon a voice on the phone,
a step at the door,
a rustling of note paper,
are destined almost always to a cheating of those hopes.

Having desired and died, we ask,
do we need to need? Why?

I have heard a noise like the breaking of pavement
when a terrible sob is muffled towards morning.
Some women are made for love,
but remembrance of such wailing can unmake them.

Everyday he grows lovelier for the love of me.
Shall I nurture, knowing the body I cradle can turn?
A sound like that can make you repeat relentless questions,
draw in your hands and count protestations.
A love like that can ruin you for love.

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