He Did Not Return

Satish Verma

It was not a jubilee, 
but I had come to pay my debt. 

Stepping gingerly in your 
father's study, you open the almirah. 

No I am not afraid. 
I have come to visit my father. 

The hurt has not destroyed me completely. 
Days were numbed like by vespa stings― with 
burning, swelling and soreness. 

I slide the clothes. In 
deeper layer a plastic pack appears. on the 
bed of dried rose petals, 
sits a singed, brown vertebra― 
collected after his funeral. 

My talisman. I touch it. 
Turn around― 
don't look back 
and walk away.