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Forty Days

A Season of Grief, a Season of Rejoicing

November 9-December 20, 2014

For Barbara Beach Alter 
It is Christmas morning in Saco, Maine, where today Bett, Aaron, Emily, Thomasin and our beloved cousin Marie find ourselves gathered to celebrate our first Christmas without dadima (our name for Barbara Beach Alter).  Brother Tom writes that already in India he and Carol with Jamie, Meha and Cayden (the only of her seven greatgrandchildren Barry never held) have celebrated.  Today Marty and Lincoln join us in Maine.

This gathering of documents—notes, drafts of memorial services, poems, homilies—is my christmas present to each of you.  It is a record, certainly subjective, of grief and rejoicing.

John Copley Alter
1:14 a.m.
Saco, Maine 
November 9

Loved ones,
Barbara Beach Alter died peacefully at 2:55 Sunday morning (today).  Bett and I had the good fortune to be there for the final beating of her good strong heart.  She murmured charcoal.  The nurse who was bathing her afterwards noted how few wrinkles there were, and it is true.
For those of you nearby you may if you want visit Mom in her room at hospice this morning (until noon).  Visit? Darshan? Paying respects?
Bett and I plan to be there around 11:00.
Much love to all. A blessed occasion.

November 10

Matthew 5:13-19
Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

yesterday in the early hours my mother died her saltiness
restored all that had through the months of her old
age and convalescence obscured the lens of her life cleaned
away so that for us now more and more clearly
as we hear about her through the memory and love
of so many people her good works shine forth in
their glory but it is to the days of her
convalescence the days of her dementia I would turn our
minds those of us who spent time with her at
Wingate long-term care facility remember that Barbara Beach Alter became
at times fierce in her commanding us that ‘not one
letter, not one stroke of a letter’ of the commandments
should be altered do you remember that those of you
and us who were given the work and gift of
spending time with Barry in those days in that condition

remember for instance how fussy she became about the sequence
of food on her tray how impatient with us for
our trespasses and violations how adamant that we look forward
for instance and not back at her how she would
say stop holding my hand and saying you love me
you have work to do o she was almost impossible
and certainly incoherent and demented in her obsession with law
and procedure fussy impatient imperious I do not forget being
scolded reamed out put in my place for having somehow
failed to do what the ‘law and the prophets’ demand

Barbara beach alter in the days before hospice in the
nursing home and hospital and even if we are honest
in the final years of her life found herself caught
up in the rigidity of her anxious desire to be
faithful to the laws and commandments of her life and
that made her at times extremely demanding to be with

amen and the epistemological confusion of course the clash between
her reality and ours it was all an ordeal for
her and for those of us who kept her company

and yet and yet through it all and now as
that ordeal for her is no longer paramount as she
dances in heaven all the wrinkles and discomfort of her
life removed and forgiven Barbara Beach Alter kept the faith
living in the midst such that those who cared for
her most intimately the strangers all professed your mother blessed

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

So, brother and sister, here are my thoughts about the memorial service(s).
Let’s find a time when we three can be present; that’s the most important thing.  My life is currently the least constrained by agenda and schedule.  And then the grandchildren, recognizing that Jamie may not be able to come.  So, our work is to find our when our kids are able to come. Bett and I are exploring that with our three, each of whom has some constraint: Emily, the cost; Thomasin, the piebaking demands, Aaron school.  But we are flexible.

Much love.


Walking in my mother’s wake today some trees
a gentle breeze some dogs a little boy
the neighborhood and I took joy from interaction

we are at best a fraction in love’s
calculation after all heaven I realize is not
above or below cannot be taught comes naturally

as death does walking in my mother’s wake
I found new allies learned yet again not
to take myself too seriously to be caught

off guard as a matter of principle and
not to insist that I understand but live
in the midst of forgiveness

in my mother’s wake I am reading these books for
some way to continue to knock on her door Wendell
Berry he can tell me some things and William Blake
he can take me closer and I remember she described
me once as an unused Jewish liberal so I am
reading about protestant liberalism but ham that I am also
reading Carl Hiassen’s Bad Monkey and Quo Vadimus that my
daughter left behind and mythologically Reflections from yale divinity school
no fooling Denise Levertov David Sobel Galway Kinnell’s translation of
Rilke some wake

November 11

Matthew 25:1-13
Jesus said, "Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a shout, 'Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.' Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.' But the wise replied, 'No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.' And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he replied, 'Truly I tell you, I do not know you.' Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."

this morning in the wee hours my mother died one
of the wise bridesmaids whose lamp to the end was
full she carried always the flask of oil that is
joy that is the love of the kingdom of heaven
and of the bridegroom a flask always replenished by prayer
by devotion by a humble courageous living in the midst

she expected every day the bridegroom to come in other
words and she was also one who would never refuse
to share even the last drop with somebody in need

and at the end it is so clear the door
into the banquet hall was not closed to her as
it is not closed to any one of us foolishness
is to believe otherwise to believe that the bridegroom will
not come today in the early morning in the wee
hours that is when he comes in the midst of
other plans is when he comes even when we are
doing what we assume to be good work when we
are doing what gives us pleasure our duty joy comes
then unsummoned unpredictable random even according to all our best
laid plans my mother loved so many things her pleasure
included dancing late in her life terminally unsteady she invented
what we loved to urge her to do namely the
sitting jig and we grew up with images of her
Isadora Duncan dancing with white scarves in an enchanted forest

Barbara Beach Alter aka Barry aka dadima bari nani aunt
and daughter wife missionary is now I know dancing a
rollicking boisterous jig on the shores of a lake that
is as her grandson once confided to her god in
liquid form spilly Beach of course also dyslexic executive function
compromised she was but one who loved to be always
in the midst surrounded by loved ones some of them
absolute strangers she shared her oil because for her it
came welling up from an inexhaustible source a deep eternal
well of such illumination and laughter such giddy divine chuckles

for her there was to be no exclusion she would
not find the awful idea of being one of the
foolish applicable to anybody but happily she welcomed into her
midst so many it is hard to imagine how many

so there she is now a bridesmaid dancing for joy
in such elegant clothing with such perpetual brightness

amen hallelujah rejoice

sometimes I think she pulled us all out of the
magic hat sometimes I think she knit us all into
one of her theologically impossible sweaters and then with a
wink she passes through the eye of the needle and
is gone and we are left to play in her
honor endless hands of solitaire sometimes I think we are
no more than the hermeneutics of her life the epistemology
artless she was not her heart like one of those
magical meals for her then a doxology praise then praise
she knows salvation

what is a life’s work it is like a landscape
dotted with oases and gardens for the thirsty and the
lost it is like scraping through dry barren ground and
finding there suddenly not only the theology of paradise but
such seeds your hands ache to begin the planting what
is a life’s work what has been shut for too
long opens what has been shut for too long opens

a life’s work renews itself then with death the kernel
of hope that dies in springtime sprouting is what a
life’s work becomes

November 12

John 21:15-17
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my lambs." A second time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Tend my sheep." He said to him the third time, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.

I know my mother very much enjoyed having breakfast with
god and that the meals of her nursing home drove
her nearly crazy and that when at last she found
hospice o she again could imagine the feast of heaven
at which Jesus breaks bread with us and speaks with
such clarity do you love me more than these I
know it was questions as simple and overwhelming as this
that dominated her final days do you love me love
being  one of the last five words she attempted to
speak do you love me she wrestled in her last
months with epistemology and psychology and theology and all had
to do with whether she could answer unequivocally you know
that I love you and that she could say of
her life that she had broken bread with god we
all remember in her life those moments when there was
a great gladness an innocent acceptance of what lay immediately
in her presence now those months in the nursing home
tormented her in precisely this fashion that it was hard
to accept to be in the midst of such mediocrity
and woe to be innocent and accepting but now praise
god there she is a happy guest at the great
feast and we left behind bereft can acknowledge that she
loved god in her own fashion as best she possibly
could and do you remember being with her there in
hospital or nursing home and she commanding us to move
beyond holding her hand and saying we loved her and
to feed the sheep to do that work which will
make of this earth this here and now an outstation
of heaven Barbara Beach Alter loved god in her own
fashion as best she possibly could we remember that and
that memory is today like a great network a web
of love and inspiration o we would gladly one more
time hold her hand and say I love you but
we know also clearly I think today what the work
is to love our neighbor as ourselves to work for
peace and justice I think of my sister with her
colleagues in WEIGO and how her sisters have understood her
grief  let us break our fast together then glad for
the worldwide web that in these days is reading the
gospel of the life of Barbara Beach Alter praise god

in exchange for his three denials Peter is given three imperative verbs
this is the commission Jesus after breakfast on the shore of the sea of Galilee gives to Peter
twice he says feed
in the commonwealth of Massachusetts 700,000 people are hungry
1 in 6 americans are hungry
living in uncertainty about their daily bread
more than 18,000,000 in Africa
842,000,000 around the world go to bed hungry

Marty and Tom
The thinking about the memorial service is taking this slow and cautious turn, namely that we have three services (at least), one in Sudbury, one in New Haven (allowing Stan and Chuck and others to come) at First Presbyterian (with Blair Moffett we hope), and of course one in India.
The date frame appears to be somewhere between December 17 and 20, unless you have other thoughts.
The actual cremation happens tomorrow.  Lincoln, Bett, Alexis and I will attend, and then of course there is In the Midst on Friday.
Love you more than tongue can tell.

the thing with a life well lived is that many
people have partaken the way let’s say a river moves
down through any number of different lives all the time
sedulously seeking the shortest path to the sea to steal
a line from somebody or other meandering a watershed within
which so many of us find a way to live
our own lives nourished and for each of us the
river distinct and different white water the slow fertile meander
the delta and we say to each other this is
the composite river

sometimes I feel like a sleepwalker trying to run a
marathon sometimes I feel like a speedbump in a blizzard

an arrow in a wind tunnel sometimes I feel like

a hazard sign in an old age home sometimes I
feel like a tyrannosaurus rex trying to ride a tricycle

and sometimes those are the good days when identity is
strong like an icicle in a heat wave is strong

I try to read wisdom literature at happy hour scotch
and Solomon can’t go wrong I think and sometimes I

feel like crying

November 13

four days ago we were left alone there with your
body after your breathing ceased and the proud stubborn beating
of your heart and in those four days beloved mother
so much I would love to say to you and
share the antics of the squirrel late leaves on the
neighborhood trees music Orion the network the atlas of love
your life has left behind and all the words we
are the gospel of today and I would sit with
you there then in silence as I sit now four
days later vigilant insomniac aware that the kingdom of heaven
is not more complicated than singing than love than dancing

we are all dancing the dance lord siva teaches and
the s
the reason why mr bean has problems

is he is a doofuss, top see the men ditched him because his nye party is

jus vinegar and tree twigs, how weird is that

the reason why the kids teased him at the pool

is because he was such a ******, making it all the way to the top

and then being scared nd climbing down

the reason why his girlfriend ditched him at xmas

is because instead of a ring, he gave her a picture of a man giving a woman a ring

and a hook and mr bean is a ****** because when he was

moving the hole in the wall, he didn’t ****** well check it

another thing that makes mr bean a ****** is the real world

you see at least i pay my way, mr bean is too much of a ****** to pay his way

and another thing that makes mr bean a ****** is at the putt putt golf course

he listened too much to the golf man as he followed the ball around town

i like mr bean teasing the men, but at the hotel there was truth in the matter

that teasers only win the battle, they never win the war because at the hotel

everyone was teasing poor old mr bean

and i liked him teasing the christian man in church, that was fun

mr bean was a ****** there, because he doesn’t look at it as teasing

his character has autism, and autistic people need to be watched

mind you mr bean was a TV character, but still, all guns blazing if we put him in the real world

he does remind me of myself, but i wasn’t that much of a ******

i was just a filthy kid, i am REFORMED OR BETTER TAKE YOUR PICK
NaNi May 2015
Can we do things my way tonight?
where ever your mind led you is your desire
what moves you?
Let me tell you how my way works
first we start of with a little wine
exchange a few words full of nothing
then we walk towards the living room
where I have rose petals on the floor
candles lit
I play some slow music
gently start moving my hips to the rhythm
you try grabbing me trying to lay me down
I move slowly away dancing
feeling every beat of the song
I get lost in the song & soon enough you sit down & watch
I place my glass of wine down
start dancing as if no one is watching
it is then you realize what is happening
tears begin to flow down my face
the playlist is all slow jams
slow jams that move me
so I continue to dance my worries away
you get up & get behind me
holding me closely moving with me
we begin dancing slowly
it is then you feel what I have been feeling
a sense of freedom to just be
you then began to dance alone
I move away slowly & then begin to watch you
you are so lost in the music
you don't realize i am not dancing with you anymore
you look up to see me smiling
you extend your hand out asking me to dance
we dance all night
enjoying each others presence
not one word is exchanged
we feel the energy waves from each others body
which is all the words we need to keep dancing
& just be
how I longed to be with someone
someone who fell in love with my way.

Baba nakushukuru kwa kunipa uhai hata sasa,
Nashukuru kwa kunisamehe na kunitakasa,
Nashukuru kwa kuwa ulikufa kwa ajili yangu,
Nashukuru kwani ulinibariki toka tumboni mwa mama yangu,
Nashukuru unanipenda hata na mapungufu yangu,
Nashukuru kwa kuwa unanilinda kutoka na kuingia kwangu,
Lihimidiwe jina lako YEHOVA hakuna kama wewe,
Mungu kwa kuwa hakuna kinachoweza kulinganishwa na upendo wako,
Hakuna kinachoweza kulinganishwa na wema wako,
Je ni mwanadamu gani awezaye kufa kwa ajili ya asimjua?
Ni nani awezaye kukubali kuteseka kwa niaba ya yule amchukiaye?
Ni nani awezaye kuuweka chini uhai wake kwa ajili ya adui yake?
NaNi May 2016
is when i realized
i gave away the love I needed most
to the people who deserved it the least

I settled & stayed
for the fear of being left empty handed
after all the time, energy & love I invested

when all along it was my fault
for being played & left broken like I meant nothing
by people I gave my heart, time & love to carelessly

if there is something I learned from a heart break
it is that we ourselves cause them
by putting our hearts in the hands
of people who were never meant to touch, experience or love it
we ourselves can prevent them

NaNi Mar 2016
silence is so peaceful
i meditate in the sounds of nature
anyone, anything that brings noise has got to be removed
i need QUIETness
i love to hear myself breathing
i hear all the sounds my body makes
i can hear the birds wings flapping from inside my home
when i am quiet i hear so much more
when i am quiet i am so far from the world.

Jupiter moon v Saturn Methane

Today Javk Dyer and Chris Mainwaring are having a fun day at Jupiter Moon oval, to celebrate the after life UFL tournament, and Jack Dyer started the ball rolling with two space kickers, Daniel Morecmbe and Graham Thorne, and Graham Thorne kicked about 2 goals and 17 behinds and he beat Daniel Morecambe who just kicked 1 goal and no behinds and after they was over we went to the handball competition run by Tony Campbell, and we had some great participants like Don Bradman and Tony Grieg, and Zara Baker came in and was the first to get a bulls eye, and she got it twice, and also Peter Sargent handballed two through the bullseye and him and Zara were looking like winning, untill Blske came in and scored a superb bulls eye three times and he won the hand ball competition, there were two more entries, who were Peter Harvey and graham Kennedy, but neither of them got bulls eyes, so Peter Sargent won the prize, the next thing was the tie up footy game, you see if you miss a goal you get a part of your body ******* and if you get a goal, you don't, so the aim is to not get it wrong, because you will find it hard to get free to kick your next attempted goal, so the first was Naomi Innes, and she kicked a behind and Ted Bundy tied her legs together, and then Brett Eggins kicked a great goal, and he yelled put, boys are better, your going down little girlie, and then Zara Baker kicked a goal and she went over to Brett and said, girl's are smarter than you, na, nani, na na, then Scott Macdonald came up and kicked a goal and went up to Zara Baker and said boys rule the afterlife, chicks rule the bed afterwards, and then Marilyn Monroe came over and kicked a behind and the boys tied her legs together and both Naomi and Marilyn were trying to be free the next time, and then River Phoenix had a shot and he scored a behind and he disgraced the boys when Ted Bundy came out and tied his legs together, yes Ted felt good and the final person was Micheal Jackson, and he scored a beautiful goal, and now for the second and last series, and first Naomi with her legs tied together, tried to push her legs up, and because it was tbe afterlife, Naomi pushed her legs and showed us her skills she learnt in death, then Brett Eggins, kicked another goal, and Brett said I am the ruler of this afterlife, no one will beat me, no way no chance no hope and then Zara Baker, who requested to run with the ball with defenders trying to stop her, but that was a trick, because little Zara Baker was too fast as she swung around everyone and scored her second goal, and she said, go Zara, go Zara, I am the greatest in the afterlife, oh yeah I am and then Marilyn Monroe came to magically kick with her feet tied together, and she tried a full somersault over the top of Jupiter moon and scored a great goal and Marilyn said, I am the greatest kicker in the after life, and seeing I don't know much about Aussie rules, I seem alright, dudes, River Phoenis had the next kick and he wasn't too lucky and Ted Bundy tied his hands together as well as gag his mouth, and he is the loser, so he is going to burn in hell or get burnt by the methane, whatever came first, Micheal Jackson came in next to score a great goal,  and Zara, Brett and Micheal Jackson were our winners, congratulations to you 3 dudes, yes this was a great day at Jupiter moon, and everybody had fun.
NaNi Dec 2016
I see the sun in your eyes
the sky through your smile
your laughter paints the universe
I feel the oceans breeze through your touch
and earths peace through your kiss
you are the epitome of love
the beauty in all beasts
and in you I found my world

NaNi Mar 2016
I gave you the tighest hug
neither one of us could breathe
we both released each other
burst out in laughter, smiles we shared
who knew we'd see each other again
all because of a blank stare

NaNi Oct 2016
some are afraid to fall in love
i'm afraid to find my equal
because in that moment
my player ways are over
there are way too many people in the world
to be tied down to you right now
so please baby take your time finding me

NaNi Jun 2015
I want to engulf a soul with compassion
Making it inevitable to jilt me
Opening the shell they has been hiding in for so long
you has me at awe , your strength to stand
I want to penetrate you with endless love
Acquiring your energy through your smile
Your eyes drawing me closer to you
Close enough to were our bodies aren't physically
But spiritually in-sync
becoming languished in your absence
Feeling so strong I can taste you
In my sleep I can feel you
and in my life? is the real you!

NaNi Jan 2015
I got a taste for something that can only be found between your legs....
I mean something more mental that physical
Mind blowing
I can easily slide between you like a snake slithers in the grass
Yet you hold your legs closed so tightly
The only thing capable of entering it is my mind
So i thought maybe i can penetrate your thoughts to leave you breathless
Entering you into a world where you no longer have control over your legs
Cause then again my only mission is to leave you breathless
Nice strokes, my tongue sliding down every curve
I try my hardest to keep you trapped in this world i created for you mentally
My words coming from my mouth so smooth
Smooth like every curve of ya body when i run my hands gently down ya hips
Iam trying to leave you breathless
Have you falling asleep
I wont see you til breakfast
You gave in

NaNi Jul 2016
She was in a constant battle in her mind
when she woke up everyday
it was her proof of surviving the toughest war
against the strongest warrior

Watashi wa anata no subete ga subarashī tsuitachi kakaete iru negatte imasu!
Anata ga subete no chansu o tori, harō uta de watashi ni shitagatte kudasai suru koto o kettei shitanode, hijō ni ureshī Imu.
Wareware wa idai ni sotte shutoku shimasu! Kagiri, anata wa watashinouta o sukina yō ni,-sōdenakereba nani ga watashi wa tsugi no pointo ni narimasu? haha
Watashi wa sono koto ni tsuite taihen mōshiwakegozaimasen ga shibaraku dake ga kōshin sa remasu. Sore wa okonawa remasu. Sugu ni subete o sanshō ***** kudasai! ^^
NaNi Apr 2016
breathe slowly
feeling everything you are giving me
i close my eyes and breathe slowly
submitting to your demands
i begin to open myslef up completely
as you fill me with your loving energy
i am moved
with every breath, i take a step
eyes closed, you guide me
guide me closer to a path
a path to love again.

NaNi Dec 2016
the past cannot be undone
what is done is done
& what wasn't now is
acceptance is closure
the present is your gift
make sure the past isn't interfering with its growth
because you can go nowhere really fast
& your future is now dependent on the past
which of course won't last

Aditi Dec 2016
It is all about the thing that is the last whisper you hear  before you sleep.
It is all about the lingering feeling of a soft kiss on your lips before you snuggle the night away in his arm.
It is all about the random tide that hits you making you realise how much you're loved,
Like a silent sky people forget about sometimes but is always there when you look up.
It is all about the numbing chilly breeze on a wintery midnight, that makes you feel so much,
The roads and surroundings covered in orangish pink hues,  slowly humming to themselves, luring you in a trance.
It is all about the soft wintery moon smiling down at you,
Or the science exams that bring out your artistic streaks
It is about those moment of tranquillity where every piece falls into the places they belong.
It is all about the stains you get after laying in the grass early morning
Each dew drop looks like a twinkling sun of their own.
It is about getting to taste heaven in your favorite flavor,
And enjoy the sun  kiss your skin.
It is all about nani maa oiling your hair and your mother's eyes twinkling,  while she says you're such a spoiled  kid.
It  is about the hope that someone else  will get the door.
It is all about fluffy socks,  sweater with hand drawn patterns
It is all about flushed cheeks, freezing hands in your friend's pocket
Like the snow flakes that fall,
Unique in their own way,
Every season with itself brings
Its own flavor and shades,
And though summer is well known for  lighting a wildfire  in everyone's heart,
And adrenaline rush of first love,
Winter stands elegantly,  and let things run into a deeper course.
Winter is the best time for sneaking into balcony at midnight and enjoying the stillness and world bathed in an oranges hues.
NaNi Nov 2016
you are your worst enemy
so learn to love you despite what you believe you are
& become your best friend

NaNi Mar 2016
i scream "HELLO"
as it echos from the walls
hoping it will reach you
reach your heart & mind
i scream "ARE YOU THERE?"
echos moving quickly until they disappear
are they even reaching you?
i guess if they were i wouldnt being searching for you
so as i sit here making echos hoping you could hear
my life is passing me by
ill never get this time back
so i realized you will never be anything more than an ECHO
an echo against the walls i have now built against you
Eva Tell Feb 22
My Nani had hands like the earth:
coarse and calloused,
warm and stained deep shades
of crimson
from the henna she used for her hair,
like the rich clays of the desert
I called my home.

My Nani had hands like grey-chipped sky:
cracked and weathered,
but capable of shrouding
my smaller ones
in her own.

My Nani used to tell me stories,
about the life she left behind
when she crossed the sea
to be with me.
Every gesture of those familiar hands -
vibrant -
painting over details
that had faded
like old silk saris.

We listened to the rain
as I hid beneath her covers
and waited for the Sonoran sun
to return.

And my Nani would lift my hands,
guide me outside,
water droplets rolling off of our skin
like kisses from heaven.
With her hands, she tore scraps of newspaper,
folding boats with deft movements,
while I set them into the swirling water
that sloshed above our submerged feet.
          Jeevan hai
                             toophaan ke baad.
There is life
after the storm.

She held my hand,
as the thunder bellowed
and the pooling rivers
carried the words from us -
floating stories
that no one would remember
once time bleached them away.
Shivani Lalan Apr 2017
You find an old trunk
In the attic of your nani's house.
Bravely braving the dust and
Creepy cobwebs, you tip toe,
t i p p y t o e
towards this testament to the ages.
On the heavy, heavy lid
lie the introductions of old stories -
tucked beneath discarded truths
and gilded lily lies.
You push the heavy lid up
like the brave, brave child that you are.
The only sounds -
a massive groan,
and the absence of your breath.

Tucked within are treasures.

The first layer -
a thin film of castles
royal drawbridges,
a high tower,
several dozen horses,
gold necklaces,
of Kings and Queens,
and the in-betweens.

A second sheath
Decorated with tales of conquests,
a victory here and there,
tales of rigid tests,
a problem to be solved
by the truly good,
and the uniquely pure.

The last layer sits happily at the bottom.
An age-old invitation to all
who seek solace.
Mumma's old dolls sit beside
Nani's soft sarees,
faded like her hair,
and like her memory.
This layer gives warmth.

No, it is warmth.

The last layer awaits your weary heart,
It holds the secret art of
curing every bad day.
This layer will caress your worries
And fold them into
         into oblivion,
or perhaps
into a Happy Ending.
Children's stories are the best literature tbh.
NaNi Apr 2016
i painted a picture on my wall
painted with the blood from my wrist
i wrote love with the knife she used
the knife she used to stab my heart
three times is all it took
and now i stare at this masterpiece
painted from a piece of me
a piece of me that was left broken
no one able to see
that it took my entire life to create it

NaNi Apr 2016
I started painting
painting a picture of two souls united as one
their smiles so effortless
their hearts beating each time the other is near
you could see their hearts smiling
their souls dancing with each other
sunny summer day
long walk on the park
i painted
painted them walking holding hands
he picks flowers and hands each to her every time
she sniffs them then smiles at him
smile brighter than the sun
i started painting
painting a picture in your mind
of my imagination
who knew i could control your mind like i do a paint brush


— The End —