• Siumi Abeywickrema


The leaves on the terra cotta roof learn history from the rustic tiles.

They call it ”colonial”

but I’m reluctant.

(The bodies in the family plot of graves, a stone's-throw away

Are Lankan enough,

thank you very much.)

The house knows its history, and I learn.

The ceiling of the dark room with the rotting rocking chair shows me

How Amma would climb the towering sacks of rice,

Brought in from the harvest,

Pink, blue, and yellow stubs of chalk in her hand,

And draw on the ceiling.

My Crayolas from Sainsbury’s

Had better colors

But the drawings on the wall of our Birmingham flat

Lasted two hours

Until Amma came home and scrubbed them away

My stick figure girls never saw another day.