My Grandmother's Dementia
her hair is black, not just black,
blue, midnight black,
so I paint the strands with careful, precise brushstrokes, then
wait for a sign
hold on, I say, her eyes are not brown- they're
tinted with the forest green glimmer of an emerald.
so, I paint them with
delicate strokes using my smallest, finest brush,
preserved for detail.
I do not look over my shoulder this time.
look, I say, her eyes, they have a look of otherness- see things much
too far off the edge of the world.
but I cannot paint them with any of these brushes, so I pause.
then wait, wait, wait,
for the urgency and the pressure to help her remember hold me
hostage. then I take a deep breath.
her laugh in this photograph is like a frail, braided feather.
I hear it
in my head, soft like a cotton ball picked
apart and scattered.
I try my best to capture its sincerity with a steady wrist and then
look over my shoulder again
for a sign, a wave, a flash, a simple look of recognition.
ah. here, I say, her hands are holding yours.
so, I pencil them first,
making sure to exact every minuscule wrinkle and fine
slow and steady and shaking limbs, praying they
are this close once again.
somewhere i hear the
makeshift bandages around
my heart open-
but when I look over
who is that?
By Iqra Khan