Saturday, May 1, 2021

The day after Christmas by Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad

I wake to the unravelling of carols
and air conditioning. The tv is
on mute, and a foamy formation
like The Great Wave Off Kanagawa plays
ad nauseam. In time I know that this
was real horror and they were doomed -
those tourists swirling like ants in a whirlpool
while the seismic wave swelled with teeth,
and the Indian Ocean advanced in a wall
of menacing white.

In my world, an eerie quiet has settled
with the sterile odour of death. It's the day
after Christmas, and I am catatonic
in my hospital gown as the nurse asks
if I want a drink of water or the channel changed
to something cheerful but all I want is
for her to mute her robotic voice
and not invade my shell. All I can recall
is Christmas Eve burnt into my brain in the shape
of a shoe filling up with the squelch of pale
pink clots. In a surreal garden ER nurses flit
like moths while a stone eyed doctor stares
at an unfavourable screen. His head moves
ogre-like and I lip read that his transducer picks
no yolk sac or heartbeat.

Half a world away, the tsunami flays
all in its path and the sky is a collage
of seaplanes buzzing over swamps
of brown. In the watery fields of clay, bodies
and broken wood bob. When I wake, it is
in barbed wire gripping my pelvis -
a dull burning, the twitch of a cored pear.
The nurse is back and she rubs
my hand in a bid to comfort saying that I’m young
and healthy and can try again, but all I want
is silence. She pats a vein and the needle tingles,
the cocktail blurring the tv and its tragedies blank
my mind coaxed into sudden free fall
plunging like a stone
in the rushing wave of Trazadone.

Oormila Vijayakrishnan Prahlad is an Indian-Australian artist, poet, and pianist. Her recent works have been featured in Silver Birch Press, Visitant Lit, and Underwood Press. New works are forthcoming in Black Bough Poetry, Multiplicity Magazine, and elsewhere. She is Chief Editor for Authora Australis. Find her @oormilaprahlad and