The End When It Comes

— Mia Ayumi Malhotra

for Isako, at last

Long before you’re gone, the losing begins.
And slow. And slow. You let go in inches,
starting with the shoulders, the ulna, wrist,
until each hand is rung with light. I never
imagined it this way. How the body goes
in stages. And the mind, leeched through
a crack at the base of the skull. No words
for this, though it’s the words that make it
bearable, the edge, blunted. Run, I will
run from this. The world caws brightly,
the crown of my head bursts with youth.
Yet this is how it ends. Who will bear this
dark shard in the eye, that the end when
it comes, dresses us down without mercy?
Small wonder, the racket you made at
the child’s approach. Ha—ha! To skeletal
teeth in head, bared. To flat hands, palms
clapped bone against bone, thwack thwack,
warding off demons as they gather like grim
congregants around your bed. This strange
anointing. This new spirit. How we fend.


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