TWI Poetry and Art: Son et Lumière

Three poems and paintings by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad

The Eyes Have It

I inherited but fragments of her telomeres

throwaway splices of her handsome clan

but when I’m two and a half Boulevardiers down

it’s Mother’s eyes that twinkle back 

glitching in the powder room mirror

and I become briefly beautiful – 

my midnight irises recast

in the hue of her hazel orbs

looped with the youthful outlines 

of her sooty limbal rings.

Son et lumière

I

in the evenings

the cockatoos tilt at windmills 

hanging upside down

from the mailbox

their screeches blistering on tongue

like sour candy

II

on average ten camellias wilt and fall 

pirouetting, slow motion

piling in a pillow of white 

at the foot of the bush

in time their corpses are edged 

with ochre 

and smell like feet

III

the smoke alarm goes rogue 

as the battery starts to die

IV

a shiny penny lizard

that found its way into my studio 

thrashes around in the dregs

of my espresso

I tip the mug over and set it free

but the creature snarls

spitting with adrenaline fuelled eyes

V

day 43

the old man in the opposite apartment

sits bent over his meal

the striking silhouette

of Nosferatu

he catches me staring 

through my kitchen window

trembling

raising his hand

in a Vulcan salute

VI

I cry in the shower every night

in the mirror I pat down

the puffiness of my eyes

and say

it’s just the shower gel

Epithets

And just like that 

you wake up one day 

to find

that you have morphed

into normalcy 

through the transit of time 

and slow gene expression

by the sedimenting of adipose

padding your hips

lifting your cheeks

swelling the sleeping buds 

of your once drum skin chest.

You stare in the mirror

and struggle to make sense

because what you still see 

is the mesh of your skeletal shell

the one you inhabited and loathed 

everyday at 16 –

the filigree of bones

barely human.

And all the nicknames

they crowned you with

stampede at you

splintering in your psyche

as you attempt to sepulchre 

ghosts with teenaged voices 

you just cannot erase –

the slow snickering 

of that obnoxious boy

who revelled in the pleasure

of ambushing you in the corridors 

calling out

epithets

Years later 

the voices transmute 

and someone writes a paean 

to your now luxurious hair

to him your eyes 

are koi

swirls of nutmeg

and you rise 

an aria of womanly curves

who could even dare to be

an exotic strain

of alluring.

But then you recoil

raking through such plaudits

unable to endure

the laceration of compliments  

trying to find evidence

of an oblique reference

to a veiled jab

lurking in there 

somewhere.

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is an Australian artist, poet, and pianist of Indian heritage. She holds a Masters in English and is a member of Sydney’s North Shore Poetry Project, and Authora Australis. Her poem, “Mizpah”, was awarded an honorable mention in The Glass House Poetry Awards 2020. She has been widely published in both print and online literary journals and anthologies. Her recent works have been featured in River and South Review, The Pangolin Review, and Poetica Review, and are forthcoming in Unlost Journal, Ethel Zine, Otoliths, and elsewhere. She regularly performs her poetry and exhibits her art at shows in Sydney.

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