Hour twelve: we are gathering

tiny heart beats
madly excitedly
they’ve given me
the instructions
which float like strips
of rainbow from
my jaw
– as you proceed
they’ll send you
more and more
to carry
be willing
you can do it

with me are beating
thousands and thousands
of tiny hearts
as we proceed
from the south east
to the south west
the wind our only master
guide, and compass

it’ll happen, they said
something about
the point of saturation
but it was too
technical to make sense
my companions were getting
excited as we neared
a tall mountain range
we couldn’t rise
a gathering of clouds
we hit it
we burst, overwhelmed
they it rained 40 days
and 40 nights
i too was lost
in ancient waters
before ascending
to a new cycle
the birth
of a new gathering

Hour eleven: hoho haha hehe

early morning commotion in the local park. a group of seniors gathered together were creating a ruckus. a few joggers and walkers stopped to watch their one antic. all were doing the same action, standing with feet apart and raising their forelimbs gently, stretching their body backward ever so slightly. these action was accompanied by raucous sounds emanating from their mouths. the energy of this noise turned the disbelieving crowd of onlookers into believers.

a simple act
bodies working on bodies
the grass murmurs assent

Hour 10: parting

parting
only to meet again
the leaves, the tress
the sky, the sun
the moon, the stars
your favorite coffee
the rain drops sliding
down the window glass
is but sweat
beaded on your back
all this and more
will remind
me of you
and the day
we’re to meet again

Hour 9: comfort food

lentils and rice
Slow-cooked
Yellow from turmeric
Fragrant with spices
Hot, steaming
Delicious
Dip into memory
and take a large helping of
khichadi

Hour 8: table of four

four pebbles
all in hues of
a marine blue
sit on teacher’s
table

students go
upto her
and learn
to count in fours

four in one set
nestled in an apple cup
is four
and si it goes

till it’s my turn
and i say four two’s
are eight
four three’s are twelve

when teacher nods
encouraging me
i say four four’s are
and stop

a scorpion is crawling there
among the pebbles
and one more and
there’re more

i point to one
angry red scorp
and teacher screams
and throws out

the pebbles
scorpions and all
i smile but not too much
i’d gathered the creatures

in break time
and had released them
there to play their role
as distractor main

we had the rest of the day off
as teacher was nervously clearing
the classroom checking
for scorpions

Hour seven

The thunder claps did not
bother, the pouring rain
could not dampen
our spirits as we
frolicked on our
first weekend as newlyweds

we’ve come here
before with
the children and didn’t
we tear our hair
pandering to their
every need

now it’s different
we’re different
the mirror speaks
longer to each of us
than we do with
each other

there’s love yet
it’s not the same
why

Hour 6: forgotten

Dear L,

i didn’t know when
you moved houses

a few blocks further
we’d never meet again

not even by chance
but that’s how it was

do you remember
how we guilt-tripped

ourselves every time
we scolded our children

before school time
and how we shared the same

birthday, and our
frustration with our husbands

you remember, don’t you
they told me – when

i came to visit
after your failed attempt

i had heard and so wanted
very much to see you

– that you wouldn’t be
able to stress your body

in any way, but i tried
to convince them

they let me stand
at the ICU window

and told me to wave
but you looked blank

as a freshly white washed wall
my broadest smile couldn’t

reach the darkened areas of your mind
you’d forgotten or chosen

not to remember
our friendship

hope you recover soon,
your rainbow.

Hour five

grandma in her rocking
chair knitting sunflowers
the color of
cheddar cheese
knitting sunflowers
because that’s what she
knew best to work
on her knitting loom

from where i lay
on the rug the pattern
seemed dark, distant
space but when i
squinted an oak it became

i scratched the rug
with my finger nail
present
to grandma creating
worlds in patterns of wool

Hour four

grandmother weaves a story
around her mother’s birth

ten score years ago
a little house
a darkened room
airless
mud walls absorb
and reflect
the screams
of a terrified young girl
beads of sweat soaking
the bedding leaving
dark patches
and finally the dai ma
arrives with her years
of experience
confident hands
coax the mother-to-be
to breathe and push
and push and breathe
and the slimy mother
of my grandmother
is born without
a whimper in her
Dai ma whispers
in an ancient tongue
ancient words of life
and holding the mother
of my grandmother
upside down
gives a gentle pat
on her back
and whispers there too
then she readies
the mother
to nurse the baby
once more she whispers
to the silent mother
of my grandmother
while the young mother
watches uncomprehending
one more back rub
a blowing into the mouth
and the mother
of my grandmother
gasps, then mewls
dawn breaks
the silence of the room

Hour three

the bees swarm
around their hive
the scouts have located
a new home

they pause midair
for directions
drawing on the scent
of scout pheromones

the bees guide
their old queen
to the new place
keeping her cool and safe

surrounded by her loyal
bees the queen enters
her new quarters
and rests

the busy bees
busier than ever
get to work
making a new honeyhome