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This poem is taken from PN Review 194, Volume 36 Number 6, July - August 2010.

Five Poems Jee Leong Koh

Attribution

I speak with the forked tongue of colony.
Eavan Boland, ‘The Mother Tongue’

My grandfather said life was better under the British.
He was a man who begrudged his words but he did say this.

I was born after the British left
an alphabet in my house, the same book they left in school.

I was good in English.
I was the only one in class who knew ‘bedridden’ does not mean lazy.

I was so good in English they sent me to England
where I proved my grandfather right

until I was almost sent down for plagiarism I knew was wrong
and did not know was wrong, because where I came from everyone plagiarised.

I learned to attribute everything I wrote.
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