The Fine Art of Aging

(for Avvaiyar)

மனம் தடுமாறேல்

The row of chairs in Kabali Talkies trembled as he
flapped his legs like wings, squat they hardly reached the floor.

The grains danced, broke up and assembled into a face –
Avvaiyar’s eyes caverns of coal, the mouth squiggles of insects.

There is the Ancient One in every family, ageless and padded
in legend: mine was widowed at seventeen, her head shaved,

remained blouse less, and shredded of all that made her a woman.
The movie was long, engrossed me for three hours as she

shed her youth, beauty and became the old woman I knew
in the kitchen, living in the interspace of desire and memory.

She rolled the rosary and recounted stories late into the nights
her body a begging bowl that refused to ask for a day more.

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