Sher Ting Chim


In 1942, under Operation Sook Ching, men were corralled and interrogated, notably in Chinatown,and taken away by the truckload to remote areas, such as Changi, Bedok, and Punggol, where their lives were ended by a firing squad.

I think this is the way
                                    of missing you
Much in the way of
                             missing you
How hungry the stomach
                                          milked to its root
The evening stilled
             into what it has forgotten

How are you before you were
                            & you were you were
                                                       before the                        and
     The words that had eluded us         for so long
                                                                                so long
              the lonely island
                            I’d forged from a memory

The face on the mantle speaks with
                                              Such sad eyes
              Such sad I’s
                            Like I was once a rickshaw driver but.
    Some lots were stones.

Some suns never set

          The long shadows cast
                                   into the cell when they came
                     Incense curling a fist
                                                through the window
                         And I still remember
                                                      the gun that came around,
          The moths caught in my throat,
     And you left through the back
                   Not in front of them please

Those damn buts.

Squared off by the bullet
               into a sky that feels like an eternity No
                             one could have

I think you thought that
             Some time on that long drive
                                                        Into eternity

   If only there was something we could destroy
                               That night in Babel
                If only it hurts much as the giving

And morning glory,
                             you welcome the day after
             The carnival of flies.
                     Only the left behind knows
                                                     what was left behind.

Pa, such is the missing.
                            Such is the missing in the part of me missing
                                                 and missing you.

A Canon of Constraints

Consecration     Take these hands and use it
                               for another purpose, this
Country               has another name we have
                               mispronounced into a
Curse                    We carry scars
                               that we keep picking into
Cicatrices            Where we are circling a moot point
                               like a hawk with a clover in its
Claws                   I know they are called talons but after the
                               war, is our existence not a misnomer? We call
Crooks                 The ones who burnt the mama shops
                               to the ground, not the
Colonial               Rule that ran
                               that night on the
Concrete             Bridge,
                               they made
Crucibles             From our jars of clay
                               in the middle of a
Century               When they are moving
                               but we are still in
Calamity              The many times we have stemmed the
                               blood with mugwort leaves, sleeping in
Candle-light       The firecrackers
                               sound without
Celebration         Someone tells you
                               thank God you’ve survived
Carnations          Line the streets,
                               beneath the wind’s
Caress                  Gentle, like
Caros                    the way my grandma says my father is
                              only sleeping, the same way you’d say
Cerulean             Like forgiveness,
                              only lighter
Carnage              Even in the courts, they will deny these
                              monsters they’ve made.

Sher Ting is a Singaporean-Chinese writer. She is a 2021 Writeability Fellow with Writers Victoria and a Tin House 2024 Winter Workshop participant. She has work published/forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Pleiades, Gulf Coast, Colorado Review, Salt Hill, OSU The Journal, and elsewhere. Her debut chapbook, Bodies of Separation, is published with Cathexis Northwest Press and second chapbook, The Long-Lasting Grief of Foxes, is published with Mouthfeel Press. She tweets at @sherttt and writes at