Nine Crows and The Godavari

Monsoons seize the trees of palm
Clouds stand not alone behind the red curtain sun
I swim with the black widowed crows
Across the farm, a house rests on generational bones
The familiar taste of sandalwood
Burns in my throat and I think, I am home

They ask, did you miss home?
Two-eyed fish, banana leaves and supple curries rest in my palm
The air dances loudly with the smell of sandalwood
At dusk, the three-legged dogs howl at the sun
I trace my fingers around rice and bones
And I watch the dogs watch my aunts watch the crows

I say, I did not miss these crows
They say, this was your mother’s home
Instead of dust, the house collects wood and bones
Like her mother, and her mother before, she feeds me on her palm
They say, if your father was the moon, your mother was the sun
The moon was somebody’s son with a heart red as sandalwood

The dry air then arrives to caress seeds of sandalwood
As the night stretches its feathers like hill-side crows
We sleep in tepid silence, dreaming next to the moon and the sun
At dawn, my aunts ring the pooja bells from palm to palm
Jasmine floods the house of wood and bones

They say, your grandmother used to pray for light skin and healthy bones
My mother says, she was soft and precious like the scent of sandalwood
She grinds the spices with her palm
The dogs are tied to the post and scowl at the afternoon crows
My father sits on the front steps of my mother’s childhood home
He then smiles a familiar smile at the sun

My mother’s son stares at the evening sun
He asks, where do the old ghosts rests their bones?
I say, they rest them at home
Ten stories are weaved into one across the sky drenched in red sandalwood
Like little girls my mother and her sisters chase the crows
Late at night, I sit on the day-bed and feel my grandmother’s palm on my palm

A grey-haired storm and six snakes in the Godavari – that was home
One hundred raindrops drip from my black feathered crows
As I finally land on the mother’s palm.

 

__

Featured Artwork: Emmen Ahmed