My mother never went outside
something about the sun, her skin
so I studied sacred geometry
and pedaled our personal ozone
round and round on my banana-seat
from the edge of the grass beds
to the blades of the mint garden.
She retreated into the walls of her room
something about the air, her lungs
so I learned arboriculture
planting mango and deodar trees
along the perimeter of the house
deeper and deeper into the dirt
from the front porch garden
to the edge of the back fence.
She misplaced her voice
checking boxes under the bed,
the creases in her cupped hands
so I observed the bees
farming the purest honey
and blended it into her chai
from the mint of sehar
to the bed of shaam.
She took on fasting
scribbling notes about pacing herself
back to health
and slipped them under my pillow
so I mastered horology, churned all the crowns
displaced all the batteries
and napped five times a day
from sehar to shaam
at the edge of her carpet
in a bed of her duputtas.
But she scratched out her face
in all our family photos
something about conservation and Band-Aids
maybe something about home
under my fingernails
something about a grave woman
with bedded skin
Something about a brown woman with pale skin.
Published online October 24 2020.