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RAMANUJAN, A.K.


Of Mothers Among Other Things

I smell upon this twisted

blackbone tree the silk and white

petal of my mother's youth.

From her ear-rings three diamonds

splash a handful of needles,

and I see my mother run back

from rain to the crying cradles

The rains tack and sew

with broken thread the rags

of the tree-tasselled light.

But her hands are a wet eagle's

two black pink-crinkled feet,

one talon crippled in a garden-

trap set for a mouse. Her saris

do not cling: they hang, loose

feather of a onetime wing.

My cold parchment tongue licks bark

in the mouth when I see her four

still sensible fingers slowly flex

to pick a grain of rice from the kitchen floor.