As I call my poet friend Sharon in Arizona
by Abha Das Sarma

Springing army of hands
grip from sides of the lazy-boy couch,
contrasting in color to my hair
now a pure white.

Get the hair brush, quick—
commands the elder by three years
as the little one shoots back and forth
with combs, headbands and a box full of hair coils.

No, not black! Get the others—
Which color do you like, Dida? the sisters chatter.

Is it Sharon? Sharon in Arizona? I try to hear
still in captivity of tiny fingers,
Yes, I’m calling from San Francisco.

My granddaughters continue to part my hair
into as many strands as the colors of ties—
Alcot and Merry still at my feet
purring, their tails up, joining in celebration,
sensing ultimate victory as I surrender
to pulling, plaiting, and simply knotting.

Why don’t you comb mine?
I hear my husband say in distance—
After you color them white
the answer is clear, a blessing
that I have carried for the last thirty years.

Oh Sharon, are you still there—
Can you hear my granddaughters?

Two faces and four eyes swoop over my mobile
swift as an eagle on its prey contemplating flight
with growing dusk and fading light.

I’m going back to India in two days
I struggle to complete—
Is Sharon your friend? the eldest asks,
Yes. Would you like to talk to her?

There is silence—
It is ok to be shy, I tell them
as I say goodbye to Sharon.
My granddaughters continue to install a bun
out of my scant hair
with the dedication of a monk.

IMAGE: Telephone lines by Ray Wong.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I miss my granddaughters, the way they would surround me, push me and take charge of my hair, their tiny fingers working swiftly, parting and pulling it. I never imagined that graying can be such a blessing, giving me some of the best moments of my life.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: An engineer and management consultant by profession, Abha Das Sarma gets most enjoyment from writing. She has a blog of over 200 poems and her poetry has appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, Spillwords, Verse-Virtual, Visual Verse, Sparks of Calliope, The Ekphrastic Review, and Trouvaille Review, among others. She spent her growing up years in small towns of northern India, and currently lives in Bengaluru.