for my grandmother
The morning flowers into my palm like a swan.
Looking at her, a pain pinches my chest.
It is the jasmine in your unbraided hair,
Ammumma. How you rubbed it to every one of
your silver strands, silkened as the foam of
fresh milk. With fingers as fragile as a fish’s fins,
you massaged it from end to end. Over me,
this memory spills like a fallen curtain.
When you were here, the sun would
drip on me like a lullaby.
Everything outside the window would look as one:
a landscape painted by an artist.
But a mist rises over it now, like someone
fumbling for breath. In it – I hear the ruffle of
your gown, your feet struggling to walk.
The noise of your tumbling over every pot
in the house, desperately holding onto the walls.
Like a child who runs into her room at
the sight of strangers, scared. And the smell of your
cooking floats into my veranda.
Mustard seeds crackling in oil, until they were
as cracked as your heat-wrinkled fingers.
At dusk, a sparrow rummages around our
wheat stalks for seeds to feed her young ones.
She finds them in no time at all. This is your gift to
her, Ammumma. To us, to the world.
Through the wind – your grace gleams like silver coins
falling to the floor, laughter from broken teeth.
Trivarna Hariharan is a writer and pianist based in India. She has studied English Literature at Delhi University, and the University of Cambridge. Her poems have been published in Noble/Gas Quarterly, Entropy, Right Hand Pointing and others. She has authored a poetry collection, There Was Once A River Here (Les Editions du Zaporogue). Besides writing, she loves to cook, paint and watch the birds that visit her veranda.
See more of her work in 8.3 and 8.3 again