India runs away the moment I arrive
but when I have to leave, it gathers at my feet —
a monsoon that won’t let go, a capricious child.
I remember dirt, red and soft like bodies of deer.
Statues smile and frown in the temple. Drums so loud
they beat a god inside me. At the beach, 100 rupees
buys a diamond that can pierce through coins. Crabs
listen under sand. The wind is an old merchant interested
in making me look messy: More like yourself, he insists.
In the villages, eyes find me even when I’m riding
behind tinted glass. Here I am scanned.
Someone asks if I want tea, but I’m not interested.
In the evening, village women come out to the fields together.
A procession of colors. Small iron pots on their hands.
They will walk back to their mud houses
after cleaning themselves. I cover a yellow hibiscus
in dirt by the railroad. I wear bangles and a bindi
and at night I let my mirror wear it.
“Last Day” first appeared in Silk Road Review, Summer/Fall 2011.