Before she dies my grandma becomes a girl
visiting all the great rivers & all the great mountains
& all the great animals before the fire.
By the Indus, in a basket on a bed of water,
her baby eyes see indigo- carpels are already open,
delayed dehiscence docks her envy, sickle-shaped fruits
touch the yet unseen blue of the leaves.
She opens her eyes after the Nile floods
her never-mascara eyes, then she closes them
again, the roundness of the hill lose degrees,
mastabas grow where she walks, as she does.
A clan of wild grasses, six feet tall-
She brushes aside a brittle seed-head,
the hulls of which clung to the grains.
She chooses the big grains with ritual-cap hulls.
She must have dropped them, something must
have run over it, rain must have touched it just so,
like indigo does not pollute the deepest fibers-
the twisted turned wrung threads of cloth
that covers her in the hospital ward.
Poems start & end before they started,
collapsing into wicks of a new year candle
that burns with resolved air, propelling
January chariots towards the next bed-
just as many mourning moths,
just as many memories dying
with a crackle, a roused finger left untouched,
limp in a decomposing waiting, on a mattress
filled with water, preventing even bedsores
that gods of those points of light
make space in the sky for.
About the Poet
Ajay Kumar is a student and writer based in Chennai, India whose recent work has appeared in Rattle, Praxis and The Bangalore Review among others.
For the first time in nearly five years, Vita Brevis is closed for submission. Read the full story here.