Sometimes our hands do the work of the heart.
Carrying what they evidently can’t.
I used to run to the front door with a steel thaal
thrice my size. Believed I could be more
like my mother if I carried things right.
The palak walah would drop the greens --
spinach with a side of sua, only when he knew
mum’s hands had insured mine. Floating bells
of her kaftan’s sleeves grazed my wrists as we
synced our pace, our breath, to walk together
towards the kitchen and yet the thaal once tipped.
Fell. Scattered the produce. Mum was in a love affair
with palak until pregnancy killed it for her. And
yet she prepared the creamiest saag. In the room
she was prepared for the pyre, I wasn’t
allowed inside. I held her through the door’s eye,
my four masis like pillars collapsing around her
changing her clothes. Nobody noticed nor cradled
her tipping head. Very necessary, but what a pain
to clean, she’d complain about greens, cold water
ambling through the leaves. I lick them clean now,
the scraps of saag from my plate, my bowl.
No spoon or hand can carry the last of her to me.
Listen to Preeti read "Weak Grip" below:
PREETI VANGANI is an Indian poet & personal essayist. She is the author of Mother Tongue Apologize (RLFPA Editions), her first book of poems (winner of RL India Poetry Prize). Her work has been published in BOAAT, Gulf Coast, Threepenny Review among other journals. She is the Poetry Editor for Glass, a Poet Mentor at Youth Speaks and holds an MFA (Writing) from University of San Francisco.