Day 3

30 Days Of Art With NAC: Copper by Marc Nair

To inspire and uplift readers as the country emerges from the Covid-19 circuit breaker, The Straits Times, supported by the National Arts Council as part of the #SGCultureAnywhere campaign, has commissioned 30 works by local writers and artists on the pandemic and what it will be like when all this is over

ST ILLUSTRATION: MANNY FRANCISCO

In those days of unguarded moments,

thieves slipped from shadow to cut holes

in fences, punching through asbestos

and emptied classrooms to pull hallways

of copper wire from false ceilings.

They coiled the copper around

the broken heart of unpaid rent

and the absence of birdsong, rolled

the drums down empty roads towards

a lost port, stopping only for sunrise.

Copper became a dishonest conductor

of greed, its rust-orange lustre

an electric shame, metaphor for what

had been stripped from the world.

We became borders around ourselves,

masking the invisible, only our eyes

said goodbye for missing hours,

for gasping patients and billionaire

islands; in abandon, we had nothing fit

for a eulogy. There are streets

where nobody lives now and we

may no longer love in the same ways.

If we do touch, be fierce; write longing

into each moment, wind around me

like copper, until something sparks again.


  •  Marc Nair, 38, received the 2016 NAC Young Artist Award and has published and edited 12 books of poetry. This poem is inspired by four men who allegedly stole up to $11,000 of copper cables from vacant junior colleges during the circuit breaker.
  •  For more local digital arts offerings, visit a-list.sg to appreciate #SGCultureAnywhere

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2020, with the headline 'Copper by Marc Nair'. Print Edition | Subscribe