Purvi Shah

A companion to the body

“If your body freckles on the right side,
then it is a sign of good luck,” my cousin
remarks. My mother moves to check her face,
but arrests her hand from motion, as if air
were surrounding her wrist. Her face is free
of the brooks of age, the contusions of careless
play. It is smooth like a slick bourbon sliding
down crystal. She nears the platonic,
an ideal sort of relationship with beauty,
a distance of only an arm’s length,
bridged by the raised hills of brown
carving a relief map on her skin.
Like the roll of hip to hip that maps
lovers across the expanses of seas
or callused fingers that leave traces,
the slope of bone near cheek
that guides a lost mother to her child,
these freckles splash vermilion
in a landscape painting of subtle hues.
Luck is beauty’s second sister,
the one who accepts hand-me-downs
or a smaller dowry, the one who lingers
quiet in corners or next to a wallpaper
of chrysanthemums, unnoticeable save for the specks
that bring relief to beauty, tension
headaches to the calm, a growl
of hunger to the already satiated,
the carnal marks of luck.

Purvi Shah
“A companion to the body” is from Terrain Tracks (New Rivers Press, 2006), and first appeared in Descant in 1999.