by Devi S. Laskar
(Published in the Hawaii Pacific Review)
Give me back that moment when you rubbed rouge off my cheeks,
one hand rattling the wheel of your Olds as it began
to sink on the red clay roads, your thumb growing brighter
and brighter as the bloom in my face dissipated
and crows resting atop the telephone wires,
watching, always watching us; your hands shaking
as you counted the change at the toll booth, the sun in front
of us; a highway patrolman’s glaring flashlight
appearing to demand your identification,
the state’s permission that allows someone like you to drive.
Give me back that moment when we stood under the arched
entrance to the zoo, the man with the collapsing chair
and stack of folding maps that went askew, some sprawled
into large paper cranes and flew away while my angry
mother fumed nearby, an old street sister in disguise.
I’m definitely the girl you thought you’d marry
and stow away, a palace among the ruins,
enjoying the high blue of summer behind tinted
windows. I’m glinting through copper-polished skin, wanting more.
Give me back that moment when you popped the glove
box, offered me pomegranate candy, hard
as your resolve and just as difficult to explain.
You dream of me, and the rain lathers hot and rusts
all that it touches. Autumn has become a very
serious matter, and my mother is not far
behind as you take the tunnel instead of the bridge.
I will become a relic among the beard grasses,
a shadow in the sallow light of the moon, one story
forgotten among the constellations, crows feet
already beginning to hop about my eyes.