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LIFE LESSONS FROM A PARAKEET by Jhilmil Breckenridge

 I wrote this poem sipping tea one morning as I watched a few birds just sitting on a branch for a long time…

They did nothing, they just sat, some preened, others sat. I thought we have so much to learn from Nature, the ability to just be present, tune into the little things, and this ability to do self care, like this one parakeet was doing... preening. I used the Hindi term shringaar, which is the act of beautifying oneself, typically used when a woman is bathing, indulging in ritual acts of beautification, and then adorning herself with jewels and flowers. How we all need to do this more, how this is an act of self love, and how vital this is.
Photograph by Jagdeep Rajput

Life Lessons From A Parakeet
by Jhilmil Breckenridge

Five birds on a treetop
preen.
Five birds on branches
perch.

The vain parakeet —
I watch her in wonder.
She preens and cleans,
leaving no part of her body
unpreened.

I smile, thinking of us women
Whether we could spend
half an hour on shringaar
every morning…
Pampering, preening.

Meanwhile dawn gives way
to morning as a pigeon
flies by, wings furiously
moving, yet in slow motion
for me.

The sky is dusty haze, 
like my iPhone tells me —
27 degrees Haze.
As I think of the bluer than blue
skies of West Drayton,

smiling, I come back to watching
the parakeet as she preens.
She does not care
about other birds, what they sing,
what the weather is like.

She preens, taking care of her body.
And as I watch, I realize 
it is not vanity, this is nature.
Preening is natural, needed, vital
And as the sun rises higher,
she gracefully flies away.


Jhilmil Breckenridge is a poet, writer and activist who speaks out about mental health, incarceration and abuse. She has just completed her MA in Creative Writing from the University of Westminster. Her poems often worry about issues of feeling lost in a changing world, the immigrant or foreign experience, love and loss and longing, and nostalgia for times gone by. She is Fiction Editor for a South Asian literary magazine, Open Road Review. She is working on her first novel and when she is not writing, she is chasing clouds and rainbows with her iPhone. You may connect with Jhilmil on Twitter here. 



~If you are interested in seeing your poetry appear in this blog, or submitting a poem by a woman that has inspired you, please click here for submission guidelines. I greatly look forward to hearing from you!~

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