Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is a Sydney based artist, poet and pianist. She holds a Masters in English. Oormila has exhibited her art and accompanying poetry in Kuwait, India, Singapore, and Australia. She is a member of Sydney’s North Shore Poetry Project and Authora Australis. Her recent works have been published in Red Eft Review, Glass Poetry Journal’s Poets Resist, Eunoia Review, Underwood Press’s Rue Scribe, The Maier Museum of Arts Journal of Ekphrastic Poetry, and several other literary journals. Oormila regularly performs her poetry and exhibits her art at shows in Sydney.

The cormorants

Kuwait City 1991


I imagine the birds a year ago

when I foraged for shells

back then, the sea was turquoise.


they sat like sentinels upon the rocks

eyes skimming the calm of the beach

before lifting in blankets of rippling brown

into the midday sky.


wings matted, these cormorants

now lie reduced

to a wheezing mass of feather and flesh

bobbing in an emulsion

of brine and petroleum

ruffle-piped like pythons upon the shore.


black-gold spewing

from the desert’s innards

glue down like tar

seeping into lungs

the last pearls of air swelling in bursts

bubbling at their nares.


I am a mute wooden splint

watching eyes cloud

nictitating membranes split

as oil snakes around my soles

sulphurous, slick with ruin

these cormorants of my childhood

buried beneath the brackish veil

of the Mesopotamian sky.


A night at the border, Basra 1990


in the pause between seasons

the unsuspecting desert sleeps

a carpet of lavender.


the August summer air

torrid with sudden fire

shatters clocks, hands ossified

at witching hour.


the clamour of armoured tanks

clawing up tar, drive djinns

from the acacias, howling

into the prussian

of the night.


the sky is a rash of photons

Arabian moon drowning

in flames of surface to air

as sinew sloughs off bone

offal feeding the dandelions.


breaths quiver

in the hollows of mouths

as wraiths flee blind through the dark

angels hiding pallid faces

the dust of Basra rising in the distance

shimmering like a muted mirage.


the Euphrates emerges at dawn

in a stillness like afterlife

the sand a salve on the blisters of feet

crawling in

trailing the blood

of innocents.