Safe sounds

Hauling in the Nets (1887) by Winslow Homer

Hauling in the Nets (1887) by Winslow Homer

As a measure of time, my life at Ethos has spanned the completion of the two newest MRT lines. I will miss the big and small things—things as familiar as the kopi auntie getting my order before I utter a word; things as intrinsic as the x-drive; and things as profound as what it means to cradle another’s work in your hands.

After 8 years and 9 months, I am moving on from Ethos.

In my time here, enough to birth a real child from garbled ball to sentient being, I myself have gone through life phases, having spent a significant portion of my youth at this independent literary publishing house (boy would I miss this esoteric expression in my introductions). Truth be told, I had in recent months thought of how my state of mind would be at farewell and of what awaits. I guess it is as cliched as can be—this moment is surreal and swelling, this moment is never before.

To witness and be part of something larger than you are, to go through hell and highwater together, refined as gold… most times I can’t believe my good fortune, but a few times I’ve thought it too difficult to continue. All those times we were in the red (which were/are many, hah) and considered quitting, comforting ourselves that ethos can never die, that we can all work elsewhere and do ethos on the side… What can I say, but—we are alive—and what a wonderous thing that is to behold. Buoyed by immeasurable grace and support from readers (thank you), this ship sails on.

What I want to say is also this: My deep gratitude and respect to the writers & collaborators whom I’ve had the privilege of working with through the years; I have taken away something good from every experience, and my cup runneth over. Then and always, my love and heart to the ethos team, staff and interns, past and present. You know who you are. Your first few farewells shattered me, but slowly it hurt less and I learnt to accept that change happens as the seasons. Safe sounds. It has been a rare and precious blessing to be a part of this house, and I’ll leave Ethos carrying its spirit with me. It is true, after all, publishing can never die.


I titled this letter after Carol Ann Duffy’s for its comforting vowels, but if finally, words are all I’ll leave—here’s a poem from a reader to another, from me to you:


The Birds                                                           


are heading south, pulled

by a compass in the genes.

They are not fooled

by this odd November summer,

though we stand in our doorways

wearing cotton dresses.

We are watching them


as they swoop and gather—

the shadow of wings

falls over the heart.

When they rustle among

the empty branches, the trees

must think their lost leaves

have come back.


The birds are heading south,

instinct is the oldest story.

They fly over their doubles,

the mute weathervanes,

teaching all of us

with their tailfeathers

the true north.


With my best,

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