The Nest

For the first time last summer
my father paints sunflowers,
a cluster of hibiscus, fingers
of bananas. My canvas is filled
with so much snow, the trees
are invisible, the sky absent.

He wants to let jasmine thrive on ice,
fit one hemisphere into another
like Indian steel nesting containers,
mix ochre with blue, rhyme
his word with mine,

unlike his father who draped
the empire around him so tight
he didn’t notice the son hungry,
waiting, always wanting more
than the songs his mother fed him
out of her emptiness.

He decides that his sunflowers
will be teal. Grapes, coconuts,
the road leading to his house,
mango leaves are as water
and sky, elemental.


Pramila Venkateswaran