Ritual

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 

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