How did it know its ancestor’s song
across the expanse of miles and generations?
The other day a bulbul’s familiar warble pecked at
the origami of memory, shaped into a paper bird
each fold a sepia print of long, jaded days.
My mother’s frail frame is immersed in birdsong
trebles and clefs of delight scoring
her twilight hours of depression and loneliness.
A herd of cows returns home at dusk but dad will not.
Ma has stashed away his memories — delicate, filigreed silver,
precious, cherished, personal — behind parched eyes.
The mixed whiff of dung and dust tickles my nostrils
from that past which I believed was buried.
But does it really die?
It jumps up at oddest moments, out of
creases that stretch themselves to wakefulness
constricting the present like a noose around one’s neck.
Out of its denseness emerges a ghost-like tree
its thick twig lashes my eight-year-old legs
I wince. Physical punishment was a given then...
you held back tears and continued to act stubborn.
Who said all memories are sweet?
Some which when they rise from musty catacombs
dapple the now with monochromatic lessons.
No regrets, no hurts, no guilt...
for must not the past be forgiven that one may truly live?
The flightless bird lies crumpled...it cannot fly away
ironing out its crinkles, it will flash haunting images
when the bulbul sings again.