Mama likes to hear the birds in the morning.
She plods headfirst into the yellowed ground,
Plants marigolds so that it pleases the sun.
Or god. Or whatever sits inside our souls
on days like these and de-frosts the trees.
The chant is on repeat. Every now and then
Mama’s head rolls, as if she is willing that feeling back to her.
Every now and then her eyes fall on the marigolds.
These days her impulses are to gather them
round, in her arms. She reaches for me with
the other hand, makes me look into her milking eyes,
marks me so that she does not forget.
Summers ago, we brought marigolds to the temple.
We picked them round and juicy from faraway fields.
On our way back it started to rain, so we
threw the flowers around us and did our thanking there instead.
When we were asleep later that night,
Mama took off her clothes and let her hair loose.
I remember her naked in front of the idols,
the chant on repeat. Her eyes wide and skyward.
Years later, Mama cries through the rain,
tells me that the marigolds do not bloom like they used to.
I want to tell her that there is only yellow around us,
And that the tree outside melts at her touch.
Each press, each sag, an ascent.
Every prayer she sent into the sky.
Mitali Singh is seventeen years old. She often draws inspiration from the natural world, and enjoys spending time outdoors. Her work has previously appeared in Canvas Literary Journal.