Poetry / March 2017 (Issue 35)

Aleppo Was Passing By

by Sithuraj Ponraj

a strange procession of Magi, soothsayers and children juggling neighbourhoods edited, to fit television screens.

The smiling elephants wearing polished harnesses came next with upraised grey trunks - and buildings shivered in the cold as they walked past arms clutched across the chest, foreheads flush with fever.

You had gone to fix dinner when the band walked past playing cold sirens for music while an old man in a moustache blew up the city like a blue-grey balloon.

Then grumpy grocers in pointy hats did tricks with body bags while hairdressers clapped - and a conjurer made the pavements disappear. Their faces were all burning.

I joined them when the crocodiles came out. A little girl shouted to her mother who was holding up their house on her back. Her language was all dots and slit throats.

They were still looking for the dancers when the parade suddenly ended. The people on the sidewalks cheered politely and crossed to the other side. They had waited patiently all this while.

We were busy writing posters and did not really see.

 Sithuraj Ponraj writes fiction in both English and Tamil. His first collection of short stories in Tamil Maariligal (The Unchangeables) won the 2016 Singapore Literature Prize for Tamil Fiction as well as the 2017 Karikar Chozhan Award for Tamil Fiction. His first collection of Tamil poetry Kaatrai Kadanthai won the 2016 Singapore Literature Merit Prize. He has published two other novels in Tamil. His first collections of poetry in Spanish and English are due out in April 2017. He is currently finishing a Tamil novel Derrida and an Advertisement Length Death as well as a collection of short stories Ramon Becomes an Angel.
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