1928: My grandfather, a civil servant
in British India, surveyed Sirsa District on camel back.

Irrigated fields reaped oats and barley in autumn,
mustard and grams in spring.

With the extreme drought, locust laid eggs and burrowed
them with their proboscis, six to nine inches in the sand.

With no crops, nor planes to dust the fields, villagers were told
that the government would pay them the weight of locust eggs.

Grandfather’s photographic memory yielded an abundance
of detail in the memoirs he left

but nowhere near the count of locust eggs
peasants collected and turned in.

Tilyar birds fed on the pests;
gained protection on the hunting trail.

Now: I searched for the bird all over the web,
but only the namesake lake came back

and a video set to Euro-Techno; Tilyar birds
group and break in phantasmal black over the lake,

sweep the sky in unpredictable formations,
aim as one for some unreachable place,

then pulse to life in assigned spaces;
typed characters on a page.


Photo by Stephen Radford on Unsplash

Saba Zahid Husain

Saba Zahid Husain is a Pakistani-American poet from Houston . Her poems have appeared in Cimarron Review, Barrow Street, Natural Bridge, Bellevue Review, Texas Review, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Southern Poetry Anthology: Texas, Mutabilis Press and Anklebiters Press Anthologies , Houston Poetry Fest Anthology, The Missing Slate, Jaggery.lit, and elsewhere. She was a finalist for the 2014 New Letters Poetry Prize. She studied Creative Writing at University of Houston.