Poems by Fahima Sahabdeen, Sri Lanka/ UK (Published in Issue 26).
Mynah Bird Flying
Golden balls of fluff float in my London garden and they are squeaking,
a mother robin hovers, teaching them to fly.
And I remember you in my sunlit home, black mynah fledgling, four inches long,
Your shrieks of joy as you saw the coconut scrapings and papaw that I dropped into your yellow beak held up high and opened wide.
I watched as you dipped your head in the basin of water that I’d prepared for you and splashed and splashed
then dried off in the sun, wings spread out, head to one side, beak open, eyes closed, like a swooning ballerina,
Our walks when you pecked at insects and seeds and remarked on falling leaves,
And that day when I perched you on the lowest branch of the jam fruit tree
and watched you fly with pride then dismay as you soared towards me and beyond, far away to the tallest tree in our neighbour’s garden and disappeared;
I called and searched and just as I’d given up hope, you returned to my shoulder
and talked into my ear in your baby bird language,
How I stroked your head and face until you closed your large grey-brown eyes
Raaid leaves home
He chucks his sheet and pillowcase in a Sainsburys bag, unfolded.
‘It doesn’t matter,’ he says. We hug and smile.
I love the freedom - the empty house and its space to myself,
Both boys are gone. Their bedroom minus books, clothes, shoes,
Still clings to their discarded childhood -
Cricket bats, Conrad’s stories, juggling balls,
I pick them up and place them down again.
The next day Raaid answers my call in a gruff, low voice
And I know that he made the right choice.
I pack and leave, increasing our distance.
In Sri Lanka, Cindy’s black coat is turning grey.
‘We have grown old.’ I tell her and she purrs,
as if this is fantastic news.
The next morning she runs to me as I roll out of bed,
jet-lagged and sleepy, to answer her mews,
She watches my every movement, follows me everywhere,
And I remember Saajid and Raaid watching me with unsteady heads,
crawling to me, hugging my legs, making me suddenly immobile,
Until I lift them up and show them the rest of the world.
Fahima Sahabdeen is a Sri Lankan writer. Her screenplay, Yahaluwo was made into a film in Sri Lanka in December 2007. She has also written several short stories and was short-listed for the Gratiaen Award in 1998. More recently Dennis Morton read one of her poems in the KUSP poetry show and she was long listed for the Rialto/RSPB Nature Poetry Competition 2012.
Fahima came to London eight years ago with her two sons for their education and travels back and forth between the two countries. She lives with her husband and her dog and cats in Sri Lanka.