Let’s Say Your Arm is Long

Di Jayawickrema

 

Let’s say the plastic wrapper crinkled when my small, chubby fingers grasped the toffee. Let’s say the wrapper was orange-yellow–the color of sunset on Galle Face Beach where you took me every Sunday, the color of the hibiscus growing by the tall iron gate of the last home I lived in with you. The last place that felt like home. Let’s say the grass on the hospice lawn was shorn close so a five-year-old could spot every toffee you threw down from your floor where children weren’t allowed. Let’s say I smiled up in triumph as I plucked each one like a brown egg from a brilliant green nest. What shall we say of your face framed in the window, smiling down at me? I only know your face from photographs. I only know this story because your daughter told it to me, long after you were gone. You’re as pale as a brown man can be; age has faded your skin to the sepia of photographs. Your hair is still dyed deep black, slicked down with oil because my mother tells me you were a proud man to the end. Your brown eyes are lit with the coming loss of a love you knew so well, and I still don’t. Let’s say you threw the toffee for hours, that you’re still throwing it and I’m still picking it up, the soft grass still growing.

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Di Jayawickrema is a Sri Lankan New Yorker currently living in Washington, DC. She teaches creative writing to youth and organizes for migrant justice. Her work is forthcoming or has appeared in wildness, matchbook, Jellyfish Review, Pithead Chapel, Entropy, Burning House Press, and elsewhere. She is a reader at The Offing. Find her on Twitter @onpapercuts