The Sparrows of the National Museum by Ethan Leong

God set you down on a tranquil lawn

Your chestnut feathers mottled with specks of white and black

I clasped her hand softly, sitting by concrete-paved steps

I feared the sound of our thighs, pressed against the hewn stone

Would somehow remind you of who you are





I’m glad you hopped, when you could have flown

I’m glad you chirped, although you cannot groan

Sparrow is my brother, the one I refuse to acknowledge at family gatherings

Sparrow is my brother, the one I speak cursory sentences to

Anxiety fathered us, Fear beget us

I am sorry brother, I cannot acknowledge you

I cannot recognise my instinct to fly

I have to fight with gritted teeth, not peck at grass with tiny beaks

But I love you, little sparrows

The way an estranged older brother still loves his younger brother

I wish I could flutter at the slightest disturbance

Take to the trees at the onset of a breeze

Little sparrows, little friends

The Bible taught me I have nothing to fear because God feeds you

Little sparrows, little friends, your chirping and fluttering nourishes my strength

***It is 12 hours after the evening with the sparrows, and I am back at the National Museum for the

Jubilee Walk at 6 in the morning***

It’s 6am again, like it always seems to be

None of this is natural, not least of all being awake at this time on a Sunday

There is a pinkish hue on the faces of noisy families

Neon lights will do that to you

They jostle behind temporary yellow barricades, like livestock in a pen

Inflatables of the Courtesy Lion and the MRT loom in front of the National Museum

Like the event, organisers, and participants, they are socially-constructed and full of hot air

The boisterous emcee on a makeshift stage booms into the mic:

“Singapore, are you ready?”

The crowd brays in response

Yes, I think you’re ready. Ready for absurd fuckery.

Where else can you find 25,000 passive people

Who expect spoon-fed heritage

Told where to walk

Shown what to cherish

And when to take a fucking selfie?

25,000 people, going for a walk that they never had the initiative to plan by themselves

Culture, thy name is commodity.

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