Dead trees standing

he hangs the yellow wellies
upside down by the side of the truck
on the highway towards sedenak

22km to the next persimpangan
on the lebuhraya 70 | 80 km/j
awas treler panjang

the sun washing my face
an orange glow exposing the ways
i have gone with these eye bags

skimming the top of palm oil trees
i hide behind the curtains
yet it spills through the top of banana leaves

cleansing and revealing
sins and blemishes, temporarily blinding
so i can see clearly again

the trees are stumps with no heads
some wear dry leaves for crown
down by the side of their trunks all brown

and burnt and brittle, the trees are stumps with no hands
like children from war, ferns poking out like fans
they lay by their sides like toy soldiers

i wake up because the bus goes bump
across the hard shoulder and
the air-conditioning is getting colder

like disused umbrellas, closed parasols
why die but refuse to go
digging their heels firmly into the soil

always on guard because their
commander forgot to say “senang diri!”
kenderaan berat ikut kiri

next door the young ones are growing
dark green, supple and sprouting
on separate lands, separate estates

the old ones have died and soon
they will be replaced
but still they stand up straight.

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