Oranges for My Mother


For the fifth time she asks,
“Do you really love me?”


I’m beginning to feel my answer,
“Yes, mother,” is somewhat wrong.
Maybe the truth is something else,
maybe she is helping me to confess
my relationship with her.


I am at the writing desk,
scribbling a few lines, crossing them out,
adding a word here and there.


She watches me intently.
I ask her if she is happy here.
She asks why I care.


That evening, before bed,
she locks the front door.
While she sleeps,
I unlock it and go out.


She wakes up the next morning,
comes up to me,
“What I do, no one likes,” she says.
I nod. She nods.


Are we agreeing?


My bald guru once said
that I am too demanding,
that I am too ambitious,
that I should learn to say “yes”
to life as it comes to me.


I was up all night, talking
to myself, staring vacantly
at the yellow lamplight.


In the morning, I serve her
a cup of coffee and oranges.
I want her to be as happy
as she was in the past.
I want to tell her about
the dull ache in my heart.
I want her to make it go away
with a loving embrace.
I want the present to be as good
as the past, we once shared.


I peel an orange for her, separate the carpels,
remove the pith and the transparent skin.
She eats a piece and looks up.
I ask her why she’s crying.
She asks why I care.


Twitter @bibek_writes