Three – A Tableau By Vijaya Sundaram

Three – A Tableau

Child on his side, heaving,
Dust, and chaos, an acrid chemical.
Within, all goes silent, but
Pain roars through him like
An express train.
Like a fish on the sand,
His body heaves, he tries to speak
Struggles to breathe,
Bewildered by the attack.
His lungs fill with foam,
Like a sea surging inward.
Ami, Abi! Ami, Abi!

Man races through suffocating air
Searching for his wife, his children,
And stumbles upon their bodies,
Arms flung out, eyes gazing skyward,
Still as birds in a painting.
Time loses its hold,
People blur into nightmare shapes,
Someone puts an arm around him,
He wails aloud, an animal sound.
He sees the boy on his side,
Gasping on the sand, a stranded fish.
The man stumbles over to him, strokes his hair,
“Breathe, child, breathe, I’m here.
Hush, all will be well. Don’t die.”

The boy’s eyes
Fill his vision, like a planet
Coming closer. Here is horror,
Here is comfort.

Far away, you click through your FB feed
Reading, writing, and finding
News, outrage, horror.
Hooked on fear, you shake if off,
Click on a video of cats taking a bath,
A momentary respite, a smile,
Like a hand parting dense rain-clouds,
And you feel better.
How nice! You can laugh, or weep,
– what a privilege!

Then you go cold.

You see an image –
A child on his side, gasping for breath.
A hand grips your viscera,
And you struggle against grief,
You feel a net closing
Around you.

Your own child is safe,
You remind yourself, but
The net traps you,
As you struggle to
Take in air.

Why is it raining indoors?

By Vijaya Sundaram


A native of India, Vijaya Sundaram has lived in the Boston, Massachusetts, area for the past 25 years. She is a singer-song-writer, guitarist, poet and writer who spent seventeen years as an 8th Grade English teacher at a local public school.  Only recently feeling the urge to publish, she’s been sending out her work to various literary magazines. Vijaya has been published in literary magazines Calliope and The Phoenix Rising Review. You can read more of Vijaya’s work on her blog, StrangeLander2015.

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