Written by Almond Syiem for the collection: 'Life in the time of #COVID'.
for them counting breaths in strange seclusion, in complex friendship with oxygenating machines
for family denied intimacy in loss, the final goodbye through digital noise
for the walking tragedies of national infrastructure they built, dragging, collapsing, dying to get home, dying on the way home
to them who will share graves in the overcrowded cemeteries of Manaus
to them drawing tears on the map from Bogotá to Venezuela
while my coffee brews
for them lamenting an unforeseen stigma and loss while we legalise our opinions on the courthouse of social space
to them exposed for their frontline love
to paradoxical leaders caught in flawed imagination between saving power and saving lives
and not forgetting
the forever quarantined prisoners of North Korean horror
detainees of re-education in northwest China
kidnapped girls auctioned in the grotesque markets of pleasure
my unequal nation I love and loathe between habitual bouts of middle-class apathy
Almond Syiem is from Shillong in Northeast India. He writes poetry, songs, short stories, and reflections on themes related to politics, justice, reconciliation, relationships, and Christian spirituality among others. His poems have appeared in publications such as Indian Literature, The New Welsh Review, Artem, and some anthologies. He has also published two collaborative works, a poetry-photography e-book with Australian photographer Timothy Wallis (Sleepless, 2014) and a poetry-sketch work in e-book and hardback versions with Australian sketch artist George Tetlow (2016). He shares some of his poems in his blog www.poeticlogik.wordpress.com and true-life short stories in his other blog www.storythejourney.wordpress.com.