Wednesday 25 October 2023

Poetry 2023 Longlist, Jyotsna Jha

Where Did You Go?

So finally, it slipped out of you like a prayer

the flickering breath that kept you alive

all through your injured life.

I watched how life could dissolve in a moment

a hurried walk across the road

an eon of shared living and loving folded up into a mundane piece of laundry,

your face was still an imitation of life

eyes still a wee bit open

like during the humid afternoons, you slept away your tiredness.

In my mind, I have not felt your death

I stare at yellowing pictures, slowly mottling with age

and sit in empty rooms to touch your presence

the bedsheets, in slightly dented pillows that once held your stubborn, sensitive head,

and whisper into the dimly lit ether air.

I smell your perfumes on the dressing table

that failed to camouflage the hospital’s antiseptic scent.

In sleep, I sometimes meet you, the other night you were full of smiles

reminding me that I had done what needed to be done,

allowed my sixty-year-old mother to become my last child.

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