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.
Jonaki Ray was educated in India (Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur) and the USA (University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign). After a short stint as a software engineer, she decided to return to her first love, writing. She is a Pushcart and Forward Prize for Best Single Poem nominee. Her work has been published in The Rumpus, Southword Journal, Cha, Lunch Ticket, Indian Literature, Wire India, Indian Express, and is forthcoming in Poetry. Find her at https://jonakiray.com and on Twitter @Jona_writes.