Aunt Millie

Aunt Millie pinned her white hair
back with coral combs,
her bird-claw fingers grasping
at curtain fringe and lampshades,
at leather books and porcelain.

She tried to feel her way back
from the ruins of her mind,
reading her house like braille,
searching familiar trails.

She saw the king when she was twelve,
and then again last night.
Searching sunken treasure,
her childhood of footsteps
fragile in the sand.

“Who are you? ” she’d ask me daily.
“Have you come to see the king?
Put on your silk and pearls, ” she said,
handing me peas from her plate.

by Padma Rajaoui

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