Pramila Venkateswaran


In old age we shrink, I realize as I see her

on my CCTV camera, a tiny person in a large bed,

her non-functional legs under the covers, her frame

collapsing as she sits upright.

From too much sitting, she explains.

The nurse lifts her and places her in the wheelchair,

as if lifting a small black bird from its nest. When I was small,

I could barely peer over the top of her body as she lay curled.

I want to walk again: her remark floats over continents

and reaches me in New York.

Now as I sit at the window watching the sun

tumble into the horizon, I can smell her sweat

as she once trudged through the snow across Smithsonian,

plastic bags around her feet stuck into sodden boots.

PRAMILA VENKATESWARAN, poet laureate of Suffolk County, Long Island (2013-15) and co-director of Matwaala: South Asian Diaspora Poetry Festival, is the author of many poetry volumes, the most recent being The Singer of Alleppey (Shanti Arts, 2018). She has performed the poetry internationally, including at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival and the Festival Internacional De Poesia De Granada. An award winning poet, she teaches English and Women’s Studies at Nassau Community College, New York. She is a founding member of Women included, a transnational feminist association.