Of Bath-tubs and Card Games

photograph by Anna Morosini

I thought that for once I’d be able to do the NaPoWriMo challenge without missing a day, but apparently I was too quick to judge. So today I had to make up for yesterday, as well. I don’t really mind it, though, it seems that a day’s break from writing poetry did wonders for my lyrical garrulity.

The prompt for day 28 was great and very permissive, so I really took to it

Today’s challenge is to write a poem of space. Perhaps you could write about the contrast between the snug confines of a shell and the airy majesty of opera houses. What about a cavern? — it is both airy and oppressive — a vast pocket deep underground! Or you could write about the spaces of your memories — the space formed under the table with its big tablecloth, which was your playhouse and fort when you were a child. (I myself spent happy hours in the space formed beneath two large bushes in the backyard). Thinking about the emotional aspects of space give me the same kind of feeling of inversion and surprise as looking at an optical illusion — here I was, not noticing all of these currents of feeling, but wow! There they are.

So here’s what came out of that challenge:


I feel like a specimen –
folded into an origami crane
in the bath-tub,
not yet too wet, but waiting for the water level
to rise, slowly, hypnotised
by its creeping pace.
The scarred white of
the enamel marks every
one of my kicks, every on
of my struggles with the
scalding jets of water.
Closing my eyes, I can feel
an unnatural ocean,
where I am the sole inhabitant.

And for today, I decided to try and write a pentina, for the second time in my life (the first time I tried writing one was for last year’s NaPoWriMo). My fascination with faces, playing cards, tarot cards and eerie light has resurfaced one more on this occasion. Well, I suppose this one will be an odd read, if nothing else (the final envoi is a bit off as well, but never mind for now).


You taught me the meaning of phosphorescence
One evening, as we were playing cards;
You shuffled them easily and without delay,
As though you were born to deal carton faces
To delusional, ambrosia-sipping players.

You and I used to be such terrific players,
Laughing recklessly, our hands aglow with the phosphorescence
Of a fake moon, staring into each other’s faces,
Like children lost into their game of cards,
Unperturbed by the bus or train or tram service delay.

You taught me that sometimes it was best to delay
The final blow, meant to shake off the other players.
You were always too good at reading signs in those cards,
And I was bewitched by your unearthly phosphorescence.
At the end of the day, I liked to compare our faces.

They had always seemed so alike, yet so different, our faces,
Between your and my smile there was a slight delay,
A sort of momentary lag, the result of my weaker phosphorescence.
This was customary between different ranks of players,
Reluctantly disputing their monopoly over the cards.

You taught me the rules and the cheats of the cards,
All written plainly on their pink carton faces,
Reflected so often on the faces of the overzealous players.
But even with the well-calculated pass delay,
I was never able to learn the secret of your phosphorescence.

The phosphorescence you shed on the cards
Dictated the delay in the faces of the players.

“Gunslinger Woman” by Fung Chin Pang aka Cellar

2 Replies to “Of Bath-tubs and Card Games”

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