Debmalya Bandyopadhyay

When my partner is sad, she thinks she’s an  

You are not the ostrich you think you are.
Your grief does not stretch
beyond your torso
like a tunnel into the brain. You have taken lessons
in flying and dodging the electric wires.
What’s really heavy
is the season’s duvet,
the brashness of the bleak
around you. The ostrich
is only a possibility,
a glitchy wing to surpass the shore. See how your tongue
shoved between its syllables
halts its crumble,
concealing all its
cane and cunning, the scratch marks
on your mottled skin, your bones hollowed
to hold happy memories. Within sorrow’s turbid cloud,
we sometimes turn into
a creature just to slip under
the folds of the sky. Tell me

of the warble of your wasteland; what notes
gyrate around your song. I would clasp them
with my very human hands,

How large of you to hold
so much water

As if one could
the entire fucking sea


The first lesson in flying
is to gyrate over the shore’s scratch marks;
to peer down the hollow bones
stuck in its gizzard.

You dodge conversation after dinner. As if
what you swallowed was
only sorrow’s afterbirth. Sometimes
we turn into a duvet for someone to slip in
quietly underneath our folds. Tell me

what became of your wasteland, what notes
warble your cane and cunning. Because
what are you if not –
just another creature, brash and electric
a torso full of possibilities? If not another

of God’s glitches, a shipwreck
shoved by the sea, that I
would gladly crumble upon, say –

How very large of you to surpass
grief’s quicksand

if not
a syllable
torn from a song—
an entire fucking song

From the Author: I have always wondered why ostriches are marginalised from other birds and how in many ways, they are unique. These poems were initially drafted in Freya Bantiff’s eco-poetry workshop ‘Writing the Wild’, where I wanted to explore how grief’s burden of alienation connects to the experience of the ostrich.     

Debmalya (he/him) is a writer and mathematician based in Birmingham, UK. His poems, translations, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Sontag, The Bangalore Review, Propel, Anthropocene Poetry, The Hooghly Review, CounterClock, and Spacebar, among other literary journals. He is a finalist for SweetLit’s 2024 Poetry Prize. He can often be found in parks confabulating with local birds.