Tuesday, May 05, 2020

Poem During the Plague: Poem 31

Renuka Raghavan tends to focus on brief, dramatic prose and poetry. She is the author of Out of the Blue (Big Table Publishing, 2017) a collection of short fiction and poetry, and more recently, The Face I Desire (Nixes Mate, 2019).  Renuka is a reader for Indolent Books and the Lily Poetry Review. She also serves as the fiction book reviewer at Červená Barva Press, and is a co-founder of the Poetry Sisters Collective.

Renuka Raghavan

More than twice recently
I’ve heard children
wanting nothing more
than to caress the bodies
of their dying parents.

These children are not young,
but their parents would still welcome
any slow
any gentle
any rhythmic touch.

These children may be overwhelmed,
looking after their own,
and praying,
praying to be physically present

and move their fingers
against the cheeks of their parents
or grandparents
or aunts
or uncles

in just the same way
one might stroke
the soft cheeks of a newborn
who took her first breath
surrounded in hope.

And I am reminded
of the intimacy of habit,
of how we take simple things,
like a parting touch, for granted,
of how tenderness means the most
when it is missing.