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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:

00:00 / 01:19
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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.

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