Great lady, mother of much

Glow a step or two behind,
Wise light; soft veil of grace.
Constant, heart-beat lovingly ahead
With clear, precise, unerring care,

            As when that thirsting kris
               Of politics poked us out.

Some say eviction; others brute casting off.
Whatever. You knew our Island, thus bereft,
Thus alone against each day's alarms; each
Looming augury's stark improbabilities.

You did much; more than we will know.
We guess generously, yet surely, surely
Not enough. You nudged our destiny.
Helped husband, children, vigilant PM;

Sense-surrounded home at Oxley.

You loved poetry dearly, which says much -
Taking the world's best living in special
Think-through-feeling, to quietly bestow,
Deed, enrich more than you received.

              You were there. Are there.
            You move in ampler memory;
                        Lift our history.

           These and more we remember.

Thank you, Lady, for Fajar fingerprints: ten
Takes plus photo, of my young, green journey.

Mrs Lee Kuan Yew  (above ) ST FILE PHOTO

Poet's Note: I knew Mrs Lee Kuan Yew slightly, enough to know her genuine deep kindness. She took the trouble to return my mugshot and fingerprints taken by the Criminal Investigation Department in May 1954. I was on the editorial board of the University of Malaya's University Socialist Club newsletter Fajar ("dawn"). The British colonial authorities charged eight of us with sedition over an article in Fajar. We were defended by Mr D.N. Pritt, Queen's Counsel, assisted by Mr Lee Kuan Yew. There was absolutely no reason for her to have done so. But that is the measure of the lady.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 23, 2016, with the headline 'Great lady, mother of much'. Subscribe