Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry

she has given your body, stripped
of its darkness, perfumed with sandalwood,

rosewater, its own sense of body.
This face that she has given such clarity

will, this evening, twist into a shy
smile at the man you & your parents

have promised it to. Before the veil
is draped over both your head & his, before

the gold bangles are struggled onto
your wrists, before the mirror is presented

& you glimpse yourself for the first time
as a married woman, you won't be thinking

of how Auntie Neelam offered you
a small mishti to ensure a lifetime of sweetness.

You won't be thinking about how,
with your tongue cradling its sugared milkiness,

Issue 4 | Winter 2012

you passed a wall of clematis vine,
noticed that each separate leaf was a hand fluttering

in low breeze. You won't recall, then,
the night you first learned to touch your own

body & offer it itself: darkness
a rough, soft palm shuddering backwards, forward—

you won't yet know that you will
never stop walking alone beneath a summer sky

twisting with such blue light.