Poem

LOST IN TRANSLATION

“Dye,” Mother says
touching her silver hair.

Harry the shrink strokes his gray beard,
“I'm proud of it.”

“Operation Doctor Sahib,”
she points to the mole on her nose.

“God’s gift,” he says. She shows him
her ulna, fractured in a recent fall.

“Make it as it was.”
Harry the shrink shows his bruised wrist,

“Fell off the bike when I was young.”
She removes her slip-ons: Girl’s feet,

Red polish chipped at cuticles.
“Slice off my bunions.”

Harry the shrink removes his socks: Big
misshapen toes.

Mother glares at me,
her fifth child, reclined

as usual on the couch, translating
Kashmiri, Mother Tongue.

“What does this decrepit man know,
she says, “My life is ahead of me.”

For my mother, Maryam, on her 90th
3 March 2012
Hebrew Home for the Aged, Riverdale, NY
Rafiq Kathwari is a guest poet at 3Quarks Daily

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