HANDSHAKE AGREEMENT

by Devi S. Laskar

(Published in the 2014 Squaw Valley Review

 

You discuss burial, inheritance,

though I know our bodies will burn,

our ashes scattered to the fish

 

of a holy river we haven't seen since

high school; our monies alms

for children whose laughter we won't hear.

 

We argue over science, space,

though we know the stars hold nothing,

dead relics that glint in the rearview

 

mirror of god's light; all that we are

and all that we will be was pressed

into the creases of our palms before birth.

 

Blue lights on the far shore sparkle

and beckon, mermaids dressed as women

invite you to swim, trade hands for fins.

 

I hunger, and your thirst is infinite,

though you know how to cook artichokes,

where to draw well water, how to bargain

 

with the butchers, when to harvest grapes;

I revive dead languages to translate

my grandmothers' recipes we must not forget.

 

We kiss and taste each others' secrets

on our exhausted tongues, we are one world

but separate continents adrift

 

in an electric sea. You're betting

on forgiveness. Consider this as you study

maps, dream escape: I will not wait forever.