All posts filed under: Poetry Archive

Flesh as Mother

I’m only as strong as I am soft The first earth between your feet The soft mounds of flesh that blanketed your skin The landscape of striations and colors like a canyon stretching over the hills that you call home Cradling my hearth From my heart to the nest of my womb From my spine to the depth of my spoon I hold stories in my waters From which I birth myself and you too I am blood as much as I am bone Cradling the strength of you standing on your own As I find my balance The pillows of my flesh are always here to lay your head So many nights my sobs gave me new breath So many days laughter freed the pain from my chest I’m not without blemish I drink from the roots of Love when there’s nothing left I’m only as fearless as I am tender I am the clay malleable in your hands As you take shape of the space I hold for you We are of each …

Stage IIa

The famous doctor, who is highly skilled in optimism says, mastectomy is just not needed for my mother. He looks at her breasts, cups his hands in prayer to mean: these are god’s gifts. Rain falls as if god is moved and something the size of a glass marble moves inside my mother. Only this time it is not as simple as her sadness.  On the way out, my dad collects his coat and courage, hand on his heart says, We are not worried at all,  doctor sahab, about vanity, remove it if needed. Within five days, the city receives half its annual rain. Within a year from the visit,  dad & I weave If-only sentences. What a shame they sound like  compared to the hymns she sang, the little gods she tied around our healthy bodies. Was the doctor’s verdict a medical verdict or a man’s verdict on what a woman must have to look like a woman? Like inseparable drops doubts pool at our sills.  We cry with the other not looking. And …

Floorboards Hold Memory

The fear of the darkness kept me away from the fuzzy lavender carpet I harken the spirit in me that rather dance the night away That keeps the buried grief at bay That rather explore the unexplained And dance Twirling in the tv light in my fear Ears perked for the footsteps One-two…one-two… the legato beats boom through the base of the floorboards The ceiling above creaks, telling me who’s around the corner by analyzing these beats My dad the offbeat rhythm But no base beats harder and firmer than the steps of my mother’s Who empties her anger into the carpet until it pounds the floorboards Words never spoken, come alive in her walk The way she washes the dishes as if breaking them would be the better solution But her voice barely louder than a whisper so as not to break the eggshells under our feet that linger In the space deep beneath the floorboards It’s safer this way to release the pent-up aggression in words unsaid It’s how I’ve learned to twirl …

What the Earth Carries

I. My grief is buried somewhere deep. Where it can settle, be nurtured, and sprout as  something less disruptive, more fresh, and closer to the living.   II. Granny worries that I didn’t grieve properly at Mama’s funeral. I want to tell her my grief  has been released back to where it came from, until I am ripe enough to bear it’s season. III. In a dream, Mama, with her slim, black fingers adorned with bright gold rings, braids my  hair down my back. She is focused. Meticulous. I wake up, and rub the thick locs forming  on my head.   IV. Out in Mama’s garden, I can smell her. Fresh hibiscus and vanilla. It lingers, even in the dresses I take from her closet, and in the scarves I wrap my head in each night. V. When I dig my hands into the soil, I feel a soft beating, like a heart. Entranced, my  breathing slows to a steady rhythm. Granny bends down, grabs my wrists real tight, and  says, We’ll get through this …

Lucky Draw

Not sure what’s more embarrassing, that at fourteen I still lusted for stuffed animals or that mum’s target at the claw machine was way better than mine. Precise as threading a needle, she’d push the steel arm straight into the heart of the stuffed pit, wait, sipping Pepsi, hand on hip, sure as a cowboy. Once, her single turn brought back not one but two animals — a spotted panther and a long-tailed squirrel. Unlike their real-life avatars, the two never escaped my sight. But she did. 44 then gone. God plucks some of us away randomly, the priest said. Walking home that night, her wins tucked under my arm, I trotted ahead, curious and jealous, asked — how is your aim so good? She shrugged, caught up, tightening her grip around my wrist. As if I was the one prize she wanted. Thanks for reading! If you enjoy Raising Mothers, please consider making a one-time or recurring contribution to help us remain ad-free. If even a fraction of subscribers signed up to contribute $1 …