• Iqra Khan

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

of familiarity-


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.

I continue.

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.

I continue.

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

line with

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

my shoulder,

she says,

who is that?

By Iqra Khan