As you bathe your mother
be mindful
as with a child.
Let the body not slip from your hands
let the water be mildly warm.
Do not lather
that body
softened by time
with the heady fragrance
of soaps
nor let the eyes hurt.
On her arms
which bathed and beautified you
you won’t find the bangles
you played with
nor will you hear their tinkling laugh.
That old ring
which bore your tender bites
will have slipped off her finger long long ago.
But now on mother’s arms
countless pleats
bangles of wrinkles
shine with remembrance –
seven or seventy or seven thousand.
The colours on them?
Don’t trouble to count.
Just close your eyes
touch, gently caress
that tender body
smooth in water’s mild warm flow.
those wrinkles memory-filled
will unfold.
Mother will slowly stretch her arms
and bathe you again.
Steeped in oil and cleansing herbs
you will keep emerging washed
limpid, clean.
in return give your mother
one of the kisses she gave you.
As you bathe your mother,
as with a child . . . 

Editor's Note: