A visual representation of "Vanilla in the stars" by Agnes Lam
St. Paul's Convent School
The painting is inspired by the poem ‘Vanilla in the stars’ by Agnes Lam.
In the painting, a little girl (the writer in her childhood)
and a mythical bunny are looking through a giant bubble.
Inside the bubble are the fantasies the writer had as a child. There are several stars in the bubble. On each star, different species of flowers and trees are planted. Different stars symbolise different personalities and display different human traits. Friends, family and soulmates were usually born from the same star or stars nearby (which plant similar species of flowers), and they are destined to meet on earth at different points of their lives.
Each person is attached to a pair of wings which will safely deliver them to where they will be born on earth. On their arms will be special flowers from their respective stars. Soulmates hold onto the same flowers when they fall down to earth. The flowers link their souls together and give them the ability to find each other.
Vanilla in the stars
When I was a child,
I used to gaze at the stars above
our garden of roses, jasmine and lingzhi by the sea,
wondering how far away they really were,
whether they were shining still at the source
by the time their light reached me …
I was told that everyone was born with a star
which glowed or dimmed with the fortunes of each.
I also heard people destined to be close
were at first fragments of the same star
and from birth went searching for each other.
Such parting, seeking, reuniting might take
three lifetimes with centuries in between.
I had thought all these were but myths …
Now decades later, I read about the life of stars,
how their cores burn for ten billion years,
how towards the end, just before oblivion,
they atomize into nebulae of fragile brilliance –
ultra violet, infra red, luminous white, neon green or blue,
astronomical butterflies of gaseous light
afloat in a last waltz choreographed by relativity,
scattering their heated ashes into the void of the universe …
Some of this cosmic dust falls onto our little earth
carrying hydrocarbon compounds, organic matter
able to mutate into plant and animal life,
a spectrum of elemental fragrances …
Perhaps on the dust emanating from one ancient star
were borne the first molecules of a pandan leaf,
a sprig of mint or basil, a vanilla pod, a vine tomato,
a morning frangipani, an evening rose, a lily of the night …
Perhaps our parents or grandparents or ancestors further back
strolling through a garden or a field had breathed in the scents
effusing from some of these plants born of the same star
and passed them on as DNA in the genes of which we were made …
Could that be why, on our early encounters, we already sensed
in each other a whiff of something familiar, why, when we are near,
there is in the air some spark which seems to have always been there,
prompting us to connect our pasts, share our stories even as they evolve …
… till the day when we too burn away into dust
and the aromas of our essence dissipate
into the same kaleidoscope of ether light
to be drawn into solar space by astral winds …
… perhaps to make vanilla in a star to be
before the next lifetime of three?
“Vanilla in the Stars” was first published as:
Lam, Agnes. (2009). Vanilla in the stars. In P. Amato & M. J. Salfran (Eds.), Nosside 2008: XXIVth Poetry Prize anthology (pp. 89-92). Reggio Calabria: Centro Studi Bosio, Italy. (Published in English and Italian.)