Verdigris 1280 853 Jonaki Ray

after a painting by Nathalie Magniez

It would be the constants that formed him once:
The clean-shaven chin, the double-knotted tie,
the tucked-in shirt, the upright stance,
the gaze that hit yours square
like a slingshot’s on the mango trees.
He still has his head thrust forward
but now it’s for balancing the slouching spine
like the roots that bind a tree around
a crumbling temple wall; his chin jellies
trying to remember your name some days but
he narrates his college romance and his days
marching for independence like a Blues song.
No one told you that love is also this:
A father letting you leave and be free
even when his world is disintegrating
like wood over-chewed by termites,
his hands sparrowing the sky,
forgetting that it is air that mixes age
into copper and humans alike.

Header photograph © Ricky Garni.

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