Day 19

30 Days Of Art With NAC: Things To Do In A Pandemic by Aaron Maniam

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: CHNG CHOON HIONG

Grow a beard. There will be other ways we

Won't recognise ourselves when this is over.

Wear old T-shirts, the ones musty with

Memory and former selves to rediscover.

Listen to old music, watch reruns - histories

Large and small. For solace, and for learning.

Sew - tea cosies, new curtains, anything

To stitch together what the days whisper.

Call it something else. We will need the labels

Later, when we all but forget our own names.

Run, wearing a mask. Sympathise with those

Whose breath catches in the coming days.

Learn to read eyes above masks - soul-windows,

Word-lit, life-lined, quite possibly smiling.

Send friends a picture of a flower for each death.

Nature has ways to celebrate those with no names.

Walk alone. Hear the lallang sing, the cow

Grass muttering, the silence of air newly clean.

Take up calligraphy. Draw. Pray.

Soften the sharp edges of words.

Bake. See how everything rises

To occasions if we know how to call.

Watch children play - better yet, join them, laugh.

They know as much as anyone can in such times.

Plant green beans. Watch them sprout. Witness

What happens when we remember to face the sun.

• Aaron Maniam, 41, is the author of two poetry collections, Morning At Memory's Border (2005) and Second Persons (2018). The circuit breaker gave him more time with his family, as well as to exercise and meditate.

• To read the other works in this series online, go to str.sg/30Days. To listen to them in a podcast, go to str.sg/Jmf2

• For more local digital arts offerings, go to a-list.sg to appreciate #SGCultureAnywhere

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 02, 2020, with the headline '30 Days Of Art With NAC: Things To Do In A Pandemic by Aaron Maniam'. Print Edition | Subscribe