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Coming Home

I reached Mumbai on a cloudy

morning that year

the familiar skyline, waves

lapping against the shore at

Chowpaty beach,

a sunny morning on the

swing in my balcony,

fragrance of papayas

splash of red Gulmohur flowers,

unyielding honking of traffic

potholes and litter at every step

my mother's homemade pickles

her sewing machine parked

in the same bedroom corner 

for last fifty years

my father's neatly organized stack of shirts

roses and curry leaf plants

that he proudly tends

closets that I shared with my sisters

chairs we used to study together


now back home in Boulder to my house

perched gracefully on a corner lot

butterfly bushes with purple flowers

the immaculate lawn

the new lavender bush that sprouted 

under an endless clear blue sky

the patch of sun that

streams through my bedroom window, coffee

mug that I bought from San Diego

I was Home, I am Home now

I have walked a quiet long road

bridging the valley between the two paths

that I continue to walk




Coming Home

Poems of Remembering

By Jessica Shah


bones on his brown back

line up evenly like the steps of an escalator

with every step forward

they swell up with

no expectation


red cotton turban

hangs down his neck

bare feet

cut and bruised

tattered white dhoti pants

flap around loosely

like a flag in the wind on a temple post


he pants loudly

through the jumble of noises

the hand rickshaw with its

rusty iron bars

rattles in the hot sun

he snakes through the crowded street

around bodies packed

lung to lung, 

cows loitering 

he heaves, panting

running, pulling people


poverty that does not

run off his spine

like sweat


LEAVING  Poems of Motherhood    

By Jessica Shah

Arms, at Length


you were a  tiny bundle

I remember, you in my arms,

you crawled up my chest soon after you took your first breath

I had waited impatiently for you to arrive

you had made a dramatic entrance

when you were born

we could not contain ourselves

we held you, rocked you in our arms

you felt so light but filled us up


years have flown by since I felt you

in my arms all bundled up, swaddled

my arms circled around you, all these years

when you wore that purple raincoat and

we splashed in puddles 

in the rain under the umbrella

on that spring day

when we hiked to the summit

in Steamboat Springs

my arms hurt, carrying you


you held big plump earthworms in your hands at preschool,

dug them out from the holes, let them

crawl all over your arms

your arms carried skis, walking in the snow for your ski lesson

so troubled by the effort of it all

you held Nutmeg and Silky

your guinea pigs in the nook of your arms 

cradled books that you loved

stacked in your arms


before I knew you turned eighteen

I worked hard to help you put on your wings

slowly teaching you to leave the nest,

to stretch your arms, transform them

but you held on to my arms

with all your might

not wanting to leave

you struggled, holding on to my ever outstretched arms,

the comforts of your nest too warm


I did not make an attempt to let you go either

tried, but unwilling to let you go

knowing that you were born from me

but not of me, 

that to keep you

tangled in my cocoon

to shelter you from the full blown onslaught of those 

winds will be an impossibility


one day you did fly,

that too with lightening speed

the cord snapped

the inevitable

breaking, weakening

pulling and pushing

cracking open from your own self

you  emerged

inching  out, extending 

hovering, fluttering,


I feared you will burn yourself

you jump in regardless,

when you so readily dive into the flame

now always keeping me at arm’s length,

a distance I will never bridge

you will fly on your own

wings fully engaged

without holding

thrusting forward

not looking back

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