By the Beach With My Grandmother

A poem by Kartika Menon

I hold her hand

Her skin—wrinkled and loose and warm,
green walls of veins
I pinch it softly, and the fold stands,
just for a moment,

it stays like a ridge
running from wrist to knuckle,
before it collapses

like sand we pushed together to make a wall
for a castle—
solid for just a second
before it was swept away,
“And so stop building them

because there’s no point,” we say.
They disappear without a trace

and we go back

with our bag full of shells,
we can’t wash off

their ocean stench for days

our nails still thick with

grime, for days

and sand—fine, gold, smooth
turns up in places unexpected

And we say,
what we made
disappeared, without a trace.