You inhaled deep as you kissed my cheek
Your body was smaller in my arms that day,
Smaller than that yesterday.
I would watch it grow smaller still.
The rough burn of your stiff sari raised the hair on my arms.
I pressed my cheek on your head,
and decided to learn.
I breathed-
Short soft hair you hated,
Perfume and powder and lotion,
A blend of smells of home.

Your childlike grin as soon as you caught your breath,
Laughing at a well worn joke, together.
That time the mixer spilled
Chocolate milk all over the kitchen counter,
you cried,
Even though it wasn’t your fault.

That was where your softness lay,
Beneath your quick temper and your strength,
Nestled between your love for me
and your love of the radio
And the way you saw things coming;
You were soft in the tears you cried for me
And that cradling arm of yours that protected,
Even though nothing was your fault.

When I remember you,
I remember your softness:
Your hand beating softly to an unknown rhythm on my arm,
Lounging on the bed together
On a summer afternoon as warm
As your smile as you sent me off to school.

No one will understand my metaphors
When I speak of you.
No one understood you,
Not when it mattered.
I watched you carefully live your life
So I carefully place you in my words
And cling to your hand
To make you stay.

Some stories are better left deprived of an ending,
A fullstop snatched away so the tangent hangs from a ledge,
Maybe like a jaw snapping shut halfway through a yawn
But perhaps more like an exploding chocolate milkshake-
Leaving kitchen walls painted with its essence,
An empty cup,
And a hand to hold it.