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​My Mother's Fingertips

By Avanti Tulpule

  1. Untitled
    By Maya Joseph
my mother’s fingertips scrabbled across my face / like mothwings, her face made luminous in flickering red candlelight. / she whispered, in that hoarse voice of hers / road-roughened and gasping -  
i almost lost her words in the hanging stillness of the humidity.  
“what i fear most is your resilience / your calling, like mine, / to endure.” 
the whipping trees / their raucous groans.  
above us, a scrawny wolf or perhaps a fearsome owl / some beast’s mournful crooning, swallowing my mother / and bleeding away.  
next night i played with the strips of shadow and amber light between my fingers / tangling them and untwining their fibers until i faded into sleep. / dreamed  
of sticky fingers exploring cavernous mouths / dreamed of candlewax, dreamed /  
of my mother, fortune teller / draped in cotton. dreamed of foxglove.  
lotus roots.  
lips like petals translucent in the rain.  
woke up tasting sea-salt / tongue heavy like fog.  
in my body, body i carry fossils of a lingering i cannot reach / faint odor of old tea and poppy seeds. / across the rolling, rolling sea / we were explored, our mouths / pried open.  
our gold fillings / yanked out with pliers.  
in my body, body i am other / dissociation in the shower / mirror obscured by steam / i yank myself back into my belly.  
someday i will understand those long silences mothers succumb to / eyes fixed on a glazed horizon / a faltering sun /  
before turning back to dinner / grating celery to shreds.