Jan/Feb 2019 Poetry

suit and bone

by Mala Rai

Image salvaged from public domain

suit and bone

outer edges of my hands
pressed together
all fingers cupped
an offering back to the sun

in the Nehru suit you wore for
your son's wedding
your hands clasped by a stranger
placed above your solar plexus
at 10:23, you stopped breathing

your son presses the red button
after Gayatri prayers
          om bhur bhuvah svah
flames hugged your frame
          don't be afraid, Arjuna
black smoke fled the chimney for
as long as it could exhale

at the end of Government dock
youth leap with abandon
body swallowed and breath stolen
in the momentary chill
the gasp of life soon greets the surface
a speedboat waits

i part my fingers above the sea
watching what is you spill through
in a final earthly message, the still water
shows me an "M" as you drift

what's left of you won't separate
a residue of bone and suit
coats my palms

when summer orbits again
i'll wait at the end of the dock
to watch the herring spawn


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