Light Enough to See

September 26, 2017

With grandma, there was always a god
who balanced karmic echoes with miracle and punishment,
and spoke to her with a familiarity that came
from decades of negotiation and compromise. After all, 
the day grandpa died, who made sure the rains stopped
so the buses could get to the village on time.
I had no time to cry, she used to say,
I was so busy praying.

 

I liked her god, but had never wanted him for myself
until the phone rang years later,
in a place too far away for those buses to reach.
When I stopped crying I prayed that someone
had been there to hold her hand when she died,
that her god had stuck to whatever deal they had made
whatever she had offered him
to take away the pain.

 

On the flight home, I remembered a story she used to tell
in a torrent of missing teeth and loud cackles,
about a foolish man who had dropped his ring in the dark
but was looking for it under a distant streetlamp
where there was light enough to see. Even god, she said,
shook his head in despair.

 

I could see her shaking her head up there, her god now
firmly by her side. Growing up, I had lost them all in the dark,
grandma, the man, his ring, even her god,
and now too late, too foolish, sitting in her chair, surrounded by
her absence, I searched for miracle and punishment
in a faraway light.

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