• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 07

For Arjun

When they shaved your head, you cried.
They sent photos.
A circle of faces smiling down at your silent screaming.

I was too far away to hear you.
I had to settle for a screenful of tears.

Your beautiful mother, pearls dripping against the darkness of her hair
Holding you against the pink roses and gold thread of her blouse.
Your little moon face
Raised to the burning blue sky
As she tenderly cupped your chin.
Steadying your head for the stranger’s scissors.

It’s only hair, I think.
And I think of all the times I held the softness of your head
Under my palms.
Slumped against me, asleep on the sofa.

In the next photo, you are standing on your own two feet.
Your tears are gone under the sun.
One hand is raised to your head, fingers pressing into eggshell skin.
A vermillion swirl on your forehead.
Yours is the smallest, baldest head I have ever seen.

A jolt of alarm
Rush of grief for your curls.
But your eyes are the same.
And so is your little incredulous smile.


For Arjun

When you come back, and I see you off-screen
Your eyes look too big for your head.
There is a new, solemn set to your mouth.
But your laugh is louder.

Your curls start to grow back
Faster than I expect.

You are growing up faster than I can believe.