i woke up today beneath one of my grandmothers paintings. in the corner lies her signature: Champa Vaid. i find it difficult to write about her now because i have to use the past tense. which is another way of saying: language mourns insufficiently. how callous it is to make something past with no ceremony? when she was (...) alive she used to make me turn her paintings around over & over again, ask: “which way do you think it should go?” “you know best grandma.” and that she did. she would decide and then etch her signature in the corner “so you know which way direction to put it.” 2017 was the year i remembered how to believe in magic. grandma died (...) & over night i saw her signature written on my chest. maybe so i knew which direction to go. maybe so i knew where i came from. i used to call her mostly inbetween things: meetings, classes, shows, destinations. she always answered. & i imagined her sitting in her bed & she imagined me going somewhere & we would talk about ‘nothing’ but it felt like ‘everything’ & it just got me there, where i was going. i rarely said goodbye, it was mostly “i have reached.” with her gone i feel lost. disoriented even. i r.i.p. at my chest, tear pieces out, look for the compass, the signature, the magic but all there is me. do her paintings miss her like i do? does art grieve more adequately than language? i think they do. i think it does. i think i make art to be remembered, like she did. maybe that’s the only thing women can do: write signatures like spells say, “i was here.” no: “i am here.”

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