Present

“The present is a word for only those words which I am now saying.” ~ Srikanth Reddy

Of course no one
remembers except
on their own terms.

In childhood, sick, the present
was a cell in which I lay
on a bed piled high

with mattresses. Someone came
to change the sheets, pour water.
Hands washed my face and neck.

When the fevers rose and spiked,
crushed garlic cloves were smeared
behind my knees and in my underarms.

From inside the burning screens
of incoherent dreams, I watched
as women fed rice grains

into a water bowl and waited
to read what spirits wrote.
I did not know

what letters they left,
or what instructions.
In the morning, a dry

biscuit dipped in milk
was my reward for coming
back, for staying.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Chemistry.

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