My mother is one-fourth the woman she could be three-fourths the woman she had to be

My mother is decreasing by Anushka Das

my mother is decreasing

she tiptoes
barefoot about
the house to
not make a
murmur of
her existence

my mother is contracting

she nibbles
at our leftovers
until the morsels
choke the base
of her throat

my mother is dwindling

she has a
shadow that
attempts to
detach itself and
a reflection that
strives to crack
open the mirror

my mother is shrivelling

she is a ghost
wearing cheap
moisturizer laden
skin over appendages
that rattle when she moves
and heavy studded jewelry
that weigh her down

my mother is condensing

she cries but
within time slots
to not allow
the full throttle of
her sorrow to manifest

my mother is recoiling

she stands at the
the edge of
family photos
so that one
of her limbs
is always cut out

my mother is shrinking

she has an
arched back that
curls more inwards
as she makes up
space for us

my mother is
a frail framework
of brittle bones
and tattered tissues

she has nourished
this house with
enough love to
call it a home
but every corner
has shackles
the size of her
withering wrists

her larynx
is a morgue
with unsaid words
rotting like
unidentified cadavers

my mother is
one-fourth
the woman she
could be
three-fourths
the woman she
had to be

she abandoned
her heels
to not look
taller than
my father

when she passed
on her unworn
heels to me
she asked me
in jest
to tower
over her

so I excavated
years of generational
expectations
from in-between
her vertebrae
and asked her to
straighten
her
spine

I told her that
I will always look
up to her.