captive hummingbird By Pratyusha Prakash

captive hummingbird

the soft syllables of the word
zakhmi dissolve in my throat.
love unstrings me, pulls my harp-music
towards itself. I await the wounds
of separation, I have prepared myself
by reading Ghalib and Faiz–

so many winters seem to
pass in an ice-coated spring. I
watch you from the corner of
my eye, carved to the door,
your arm moving like a
riverboat upstream.

how you move, my love.
it leaves me tender like
a green shoot, feathered breath
caught in its roots. your movements
are like an étude, a silken dance
on the shallow waves.

how graceful, the slow whirr of
your eyelashes this winter morning.
a captive hummingbird’s
wings in flight. I think of
mornings in your country,
cut mangoes on a large steel plate.

and I listen to you and memorize
the riverboat upstream for in truth
I know we cannot stay together much longer,
leaf and sap — the world assigns
stamps and papers to our roots and colours
your hummingbird skin
flashing gold in the drunken sunlight.

we count our winters in trepidation,
dreading the spring. when the rain falls again
I insist, qatra-qatra milti hai
qatra qatra jeene do.
I only receive these small moments
like raindrops; let me live
in them, the rain breathing awake on my skin–

I want to stay
green and tender. I watch your hummingbird
eyelashes flickering to me,
then to your passport.

By Pratyusha Prakash

Note: ‘zakhmi’ is Urdu for ‘wounded


Pratyusha Prakash is a student at the University of Edinburgh and Poetry Editor at The Missing Slate. Her work has appeared in numerous websites and magazines, in the forms of poetry, literary translations, and travel articles.

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