My mother says it was the peacock
that did it, the reason I said papa
before mama. In the memory she made
for me, you took me to the chhat
and taught me how to say ‘mor.’

I don’t remember the peacocks. I remember wanting

She insists they were why I forgave
you her bruises: red turning blue,
then green, color of rose-ringed
parakeets. I remember

pointing a fruit
knife at you, blade sticky
with orange pulp. I remember

the forests we crossed
every Himalayan summer;
how you taught
me to listen for a river;
joining tops of blue
pine to bulbuls who flew
across, drawing threads
with our eyes to trace
their flight. I remember
the shrill in Mama’s voice

the first time she called my name
for help. I remember
screaming STOP.

I remember learning
to pronounce or-ni-tho-lo-gist,
you explaining you weren’t
one. I remember breathing

sessions in therapy, sifting
summer from winter, you
from Mama’s husband,
my therapist saying I should
hold on to the good things you did.