Burn on my Mother’s Forearm
A moth alights on the clabbered cloudlet skin.
Brown sleep sprawled on wings, an embracing
moveableness in holding on still, a cotton-wooled
confession smudging the edges, all the leaflets I killed.
Or a browned dream she has no buzz-alarms for. A feathering
of child-earth tree-full green, never seen by her for the rill
to fill and well to fill from. A rush: wing-brush of steam.
The coal clunk, the revolutions to reach home. Prayers
her capillaries will hymn up with in falls to come. Jumbled
glyphs of an answer she had missed, Anatomy paper
next day each day. The slow burn. ‘Mothling’ changing shape
changing hands. You came from the mountains, we say, her
family, we all tan, and her skin snow, a lie, we know,
she lights up, her bones battling the coughing cooker and
the aluminium wok in martial rage, her eye-rolls
ventriloquizing genealogy across geography. This, I sense, is where
it all takes place, yet it’s not the scene, just the place. The moth
clings on to her fluttering frame, drinking dregs drinking
dregs. Sad pawprints of the mongoose before he dies in
the night-after dream. A new moth on a new day-tiffin
of yellowed rice and cabbage on her daisied skin.
Monsoon girled around to house her body, her long fingers drizzling to position. My grandmother taught me how to crochet. Slip knot. Having the amaranth yarn make the first hole is to open another hole another hole another hole. Drops soldier to a chain at the long-lashed eaves I don’t carry a pail to. Carrying loss is to open loss like a package: a snarl of yarn or a window you climb over when the bars fall away, the room you hear the ill
-oiled swing of a sewing machine, the foot treadle groaning a rust-ridden elegy. To be unable to search for my sea-glass quietude in the red-oxide drone. The way the bamboo cane chairs my skin in time-traceries. Drugged in desperation, the yarn breaststroking to safety—there is a kind of wide-eyed safety in distance, or so the thought, in moving away from initiality—yarn over, yarn through, yarn over, yarn through. But the truth that moving away can only be moving closer. Crocheting is
circling back to the first hole over and monsoon over. She taught me to celebrate absence by creating a whorl around it. Chingam-Kanni-Thulam-Vrischikam-Dhanu-Makaram-Kumbham-Meenam-Medam-Edavam-Mithunam-Karkadakam.
* Chingam-Kanni-Thulam-Vrischikam-Dhanu-Makaram-Kumbham-Meenam-Medam-Edavam-Mithunam-Karkadakam: months in Malayalam calendar
Sorrow Selkies her Bird-clothes
Winds lisp. Arrow
oozes in a creosote
into sails, a sun or a
of ships usurping
Inhered in itself
of springs par rowen-
The lifer, the cen-
Oars or rowlock
which one to