Reverse Memory

Reverse Memory

Reverse Memory 1280 1280 Prerana Kumar

This dusk road home is not littered with rotten
lotus-root, burnt rubber sheet, or any stillborn
calf’s slick waiting to coat their feet.
Mama does not coconut-oil their limbs
so their skin yields easy

where their shorts end. Mama does not tell
them of Yamraj’s yellow eyes in their father’s
face, does not pad their cottons before his midnight
summons. There is no habit of counting

the stringy coconut leaves twined
into a lance, his falling caresses not rain,
plough, or searching the supple bridges
behind their knees to break against.

He does not slur how eating a palm’s worth
of food is to be earned. Mama’s dirge is not
the one they sing to the goats before
they are led into the vermillion yard.

She has no thirst to prepare her young
ones’ bodies, to remember the etch
of stones, to trace the way they strip
a spine. She does not say

the brown threads on their palms
are a bearable measure of earth to be buried in.

Header photograph © Shalini Chaudhary.

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