The builder showed
around the house, the backyard
she visualized a garden.
Her eyes rose
the stone wall to the crown
of banyan trees skirting
the property next door.
When she came to know what lay
on the other side,
the pearl loosened
from clasp as the chest
heaved from smoke,
contrary to the belief the body is all water.
When he said: your child looks like my dead son, she held
hers in the hollow of the chest.
The milk seeped through the lilac mulmul kurta.
He said that was a good death
— as if the loss is a fruit, tender with the taste of earth—
a good yield of Banganapalli.
There could be rotten ones, secretions pooled in cavities.
He carried a small body
and then the next
outside the village,
shoulder ripped by pain, a part of brain telling:
a cage of warm bones
now dead wood,
noisy, defying the lashing flames
like little boys who dart out of a mother’s attention.
She kneaded mashed yam after rubbing her finger crevices with oil.
Rolling balls with spikes of chili,
her eyes watchful as sweat beaded the upper lip.
He thought he could travel
beyond seas, build
a home, grow a maple tree, tend azaleas.
He did not notice she cracked like summer earth,
skin clogged with garlic flakes, the mango sucked dry,
pith scooped by pyre.
His home with sunroom was soon rendered a graveyard.