Portrait of a Somewhat Distant Relative
Her family had fallen upon hard times, but how would I know — I was too young. As a ritual, I would visit her place whenever I was in my grandma’s town. When I would tell her something, she never failed to appear enchanted by my little spells and childish incantations, her large eyes shone in all their sincerity. And the next morning, I sneaked behind her, discovered the grief of other people — saw her cut a Colgate tube in half to extract the last bits of clinging toothpaste. Startled, she turned around and I saw her face as it truly was — wrinkled and creased like a heavy drapery that shrouded a secret room inside her narrow, miniature home, a room that opened into another that opened into another … where there’s a bunch of veiled men and women holding the world in its place.
Our footsteps dappling the hushed topology
of roads, the three of us wandered through
the gauzy city softened just after rain and the
arrowed rays of street lamps — distinct as a
bunch of radishes held by their leaves — filter
through the meshed foliage of dense treetops
braiding with the wispy scents of chameli
flowers, and the grass blades shimmered like
silvery chalices raised to the sky throbbing with
the cries of bullfrogs and by the time one of us
had something to say, we were suddenly deaf
as astronauts or mud snails with hearts buried
deep inside the nest of infinite spirals.
Faiz Ahmad is a recent graduate in Biological Sciences from IIT Madras, India. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Salamander, Poetry Daily, Denver Quarterly, Harpur Palate and others.