by morning we arrive and the first thing i see
is the handpipe planted in the frontyard
with a hose running all the way to the toilet
in the back fitted with a new western.
grandpa gets up from his armchair and looks at us
and sinks back in the last of his skin holding onto
an inhaler. as he breathes into it the capsules inside
dance like anchovies. it isn’t as easy as it used to be
he says— we cousins sit in silence and watch
the justcleared sky with a harp of smoke—
come see me if you want to see me alive for the last time.
i find the last VHS of my parents’ marriage
unspooling quietly in a rotting closet but not
before they salvaged it onto a hard disk but not
without pink and green glitchstains. dad cuts banana
leaves and aunt serves us fish in it that tastes more of
earth than water— a single strand of steelwool is then
a memory sitting down crosslegged on the winterfed
mosaic floor— a luxury to have made hunger patient
by habit. it thunders as if gods cocked a gun into the clouds
and went bang. a dog takes cover under a coconut tree.
my cousin on his phone returns a smile that sinks somewhere
between us before ebbing again at the first scent of his ringtone.
it isn’t as easy as it used to be. there’ll be ash on our shuttles
as we homecome. we have to do something to pass the time
so we shuffle a deck of cards stitched together
from two incomplete sets as the smoke of the kerosene lamp
licks my grandma’s portraits in which she was edited into a sari
she never wore with a necklace she never had to show we already
have what we will gain. at night after a whiff of the mat with
a fraying weave undoing the palmfuls of effort wished into it
we resort to grandma’s old saris sunk in mothballs of closeted air
and the glitchstained TV is plugged out to make way for the table fan :
from the stool it scans us like a god’s judgment encrypted in a theory
of winds. it thunders as we go to take a piss before we go to sleep
but the tired sky only grumbles with ghosts clouded in wrinkles.
the toilet has a rope so that grandpa can get up by himself as burnt
firewood ash meets the ebbing of the water all the way from
the frontyard pipe. we boys can go in the woods so we go to rain
and come back wet and wait for the others to return. at night i dream of
a dog with a spine of sawdust walking through a dam of coconut shells
to unbury a VHS and capsules and a corpse of a fat lizard. by morning
we depart waving hands to erase some inevitable but unseen shape.