MIRA, AFTER FATHER'S RADIATION THERAPY.
In a hospital, God is a scar tissue. A dog breathes as if a slur slipping off
my drunk uncle’s tongue. I place the poem between a prayer and a profanity.
Here is the plucked rooster of my mouth, redder than an exit wound.
Here are the crows blacker than my grandmother’s misspelled tattoos.
I swallow the root of turmeric. Stuff my cheeks with cupful of cardamoms.
Here’s to homemade antidotes, a halt in the hell of motion sickness. Purge
the vomit with goatmilk & camphor oil. Chew the marigold off the garland
coiled around his photograph like a sedated viper. Mourning fills the gaps
in my memory in an inexact dose of steroids. Any absence creates
the illusion of closeness. A callus grows on my big toe and I séance
the cratered fiction of skin with the pinprick of a hairclip. When
the cancer came, his cells dominoed as if a cheap loss in a game of tetris.
His lung x-rayed in a charcoal map of the Andaman. Summer tiptoed
a month later than usual. The henna green swirl of my skirt had stilled itself
by then. My mother’s anklets divorced their bells, were unhooked, shoved deep
into the throat of a mango wood cupboard. Every evening we sat on the porch-swing in his hand-built pagoda. The obi of darkness rearranging the geometry of our grief. The fingertips of java plum trees elongated with the extempore of parrots. My mother’s eyes as bloodshot as their beaks. These birds never leave home, she said. They’d turn feral and empty out any tree.They’d rust a cage with the clockwork of mimicry. But they stayed. No diaspora clings to their wingspan. No pilgrimage across the arbor vitae of hemispheres. So, we sat back and let the green venery wrap the dusk in an epilogue of plumes. Our hands cupping the storm whispering inside each teacup. Our bodies turning silver with rain.