Mr Sigiriya’s Weird and Wonderful Talents

by Maiya Dambawinna

My dad always told me
Never to speak to strangers,
So I always ended up
Just speaking to my friends.

I heard about him first from Tommy.
We were walking home from school,
Our backpacks heavy,
Sweat dripping from our spring brows.

“Mr Sigiriya can tie himself in knots you know!”
I didn’t believe him.
We watched some talent show on TV, and
Contortion suddenly made a lot more sense.

Next it was Emily, I think –
“Mr Sigiriya cries leaves,
Only little ones though –
Imagine crying leaves from your tear ducts!”

I didn’t know an awful lot about ducts
Or biology. My dad told me the old man must have
Green fingers – I wished I had green fingers,
Maybe even purple ones.

Adam received a birthday invite from
Mr Sigiriya, apparently.
Adam said he had almost perfect calligraphy,
Other than a mistake on the ‘K’ of his last name.

Steven said that Mr Sigiriya once walked into
His garden, rolled up his shadow and put it in his
Pocket. He started to roll up his foot too,
But stopped when he saw Steven watching.

There was that one time when
Lily went to water his plants;
He told her he could levitate four inches off the ground,
But only for time periods in multiples of three.

I was twelve before I heard about Mr Sigiriya
Again. I remembered his green fingers,
Only this time I actually knew
What that meant.

Victoria told me his house was full of
Olive trees – they just grew and grew
And no matter what he did he just
Couldn’t ever stop them.

I liked olives. I wanted to
Meet this ‘Mr Sigiriya’ and ask about his
Trees. I asked my dad if I could visit.
He said no.

I know someone once told me
He could catch a butterfly without
Breaking its wings. I thought that was easy –
Then I broke a butterfly’s wings.

When I was fourteen, I met Mr Sigiriya,
He told me he was a photographer,
He could take perfect polaroids with his eyes
And print them out of his mouth.

I asked if he was ill. He told me he was
Fine. I walked home – my dad woke me up the
Next morning with the news that Mr Sigiriya had
‘Passed away’. Clearly, he’d been lying.

It’s funny, because I always thought he’d
Float to heaven or morph into an olive tree
Or something. He had a bunch of weird talents
Like that –

I guess the only one he was good at was dying.