theories about my nani

theories about my nani
                  i. chudail

butternut kajal / waterline smudge / my eyes spill lukewarm / and bittersweet / and she stains my hands / red and pulverized

in groves / of mango / and sweet jackfruit / ripe so the sun chokes / we shove forget-me-nots down our gullets / and i collect her literature / her literature

                   ii. masala tongue

under the vicious sun, i bear on my back centuries of my ancestors’ flour beaten, dirt caked, saffron turmeric cardamom stained hands—
these hands, which have cupped my face and blessed the feet of our animal gods
these hands, which grasp stone between chapped red fingers and rough palms

call me atlas: i carry the tears of the women before me upon coconut-sculpted shoulders, searching for splits in our homes—
the women dancing in crackling clay pot oil, the women fetching drops of water to sprinkle on tongues, the women aging in cheek rings of paratha flour streaks and garam masala sweat

in death, my loved ones have become warriors of sorts; molded from the alluvial clay of the ganges where they sculpted their 
lives, and i carry this on my sweat-sculpted shoulders— 
guardians and smugglers and worshippers,
we are a monsoon of golden red brown masala blood and sun-blistered skin and banana leaves
and so i bathe in my ancestors’ clay in hopes that it will seep into the splits and hollows of my bones,
the cracks of my skin,
and harden

                  iii. the ides of march

i wish to be in the presence of the rotting mango sun
and my nani’s soft chapati moon