The Liable Age

Beneath slabs of benches shoved
into latticed iron, twenty jerrycans

swirled without spillage, already accustomed
to leaving before the watter settled. In front,

nameless uniforms contrived to make
houses of each other, their indifference

a myth weakened by yet another day’s
passing. Of all these divergent luxuries

I tried to theorise jungles as whispers
for independence; soil caked

like doubt against fingernails
became irreverent signposts

lauding ownership harder than
incantations of each other. But

there was little dark could
not disfigure, your shadow

leaking past a brim of memory
too coarse to conquer, much less fight for.

If only footsteps would inherit this land
like matches struck on parallel wounds,

the sky a testimony of vaulted histories
for dawn to set on fire, inchoate years

between us made combustible by
the debris of someone else’s war.

by Jerrold Yam
from Chasing Curtained Suns (2012)


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