Poetry / June 2012 (Issue 17)

Words Not Spoken

by Vinita Agrawal

After mother passed away, the house shrunk,
silence expanded. Father and I heard pins of
emptiness drop. We discussed animatedly
about the sooty sun behind the clouds, the salty rain.
We mumbled about what to have for lunch and
dinner but did not parley on what to do with
mother's saris. We did not talk about the aroma
that was missing from the kitchen, or the flock
of indignant mynahs twittering hungrily in the
balcony, their beaks agape with personal loss.

Every dark morning a fresh tsunami of pain
engulfed the house; flowers wilted,
photos swam in it like brave fish. The tubers
in mother's meticulous back garden were
rendered tasteless. The Estonia by her bedside
window bent low like an old woman. Death had
become a vast gerund beneath our lowered lids.

Brokenness stood on the spindly legs of a
yawning regret of words not spoken. Love not
expressed, miasma not cleared. Now once a year,
we prepare mother's favourite food, feed it
to the crows and cows. We gift
the Brahmin priest new clothes... The earth,
the sky are both fed and cloaked.
Scabrous conscience aches
for the words not spoken.
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