Shedding the Skin

Yamini Pathak

My mother is cleaning out,
tearing old pictures and letters
with neat, economical rips
the way she does everything

Stop! I cry, grasping,
tidal waves of panic flood
my lungs

 You must learn to let go
her eyes are gentle,
they do not see me

Fragments float in a flurry
of memories, not mine
a glimpse of blue
post-office issue
inland letter says
in my mother’s handwriting
only yours

At fifteen she glows
in a printed dress
of indeterminate color
her younger brother holds a bike
too big for him
by the handlebars
their faces in the sun
untouched by shadows

My grandparents’ unsmiling
engagement picture
black and white
young and handsome
ramrod straight
looking their best

My father crouches
in baggy trousers
hat set rakishly at an angle
grin slanting across his face, wearing
an expression I have never seen
in real life


About the Author:

Yamini Pathak is a former software engineer who has recently started writing poetry and short fiction. Her writing has appeared in Literary Mama, Indian newspaper, The Hindu, and education portal She was born in India, and she lives in West Windsor, New Jersey.

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