Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad
Noon shadows wilt, prussian and teal. Two magpies strut on the porch, eyeing the bead of mince that I roll between thumb and forefinger. They dart in anticipation, claws clicking on stone. I recall my mother standing by the woods, tossing safflower seeds to pigeons - how they circled around her, collective wings blurring into blue-white arcs. I remember her laughter echoing through the wash of feathers, the weaving and wheeling of the flock, eyes trained on her velvet palms, drawn to the sifting of the seeds in her pouch. I pinch the balls of mince and toss them to my birds, watching them swoop and savor the morsels before flying back into the canopy of red gums. Tomorrow, they will return. In this garbled existence, my afternoon rendezvous brings a glimpse of freedom - this meeting beneath the swirl of eucalyptus and cloud. For now, my ritual preserves my peace, this mingling with my magpies, vaulting me beyond time into my mother’s world that simple place in a sylvan past when all was sky and birds and free.
I spend some time in the garden at the back of my apartment block every day after lunch. Two magpies frequent this stretch. I have sketched and painted them over the years, and I always look forward to my time with them. I have even given them names – Mandaakini (celestial river, in Sanskrit) and Maniyan (gemstone). It is fun to watch their antics and impossibly hard not to envy the freedom they enjoy while the world moves in and out of ever-changing restrictions.
Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is an Indian-Australian artist, poet, and pianist. She holds a Masters in English and is a member of Sydney’s North Shore Poetry Project. Her recent poems have been published in Tistelblomma, Silver Birch Press, Underwood Press, and Black Bough Poetry. Her recent artworks have been published in The Amsterdam Quarterly, and Back Patio Press, and on the covers of Pithead Chapel, Ang(st), Periwinkle Literary, and elsewhere. She serves as a chief editor for Authora Australis. She lives on the land of the Ku-ring-gai people of The Eora Nation. Find her @oormilaprahlad and www.instagram.com/oormila_paintings