Art by Kirsten Hemrich
Her veil: blush, pearl-spotted.
Lashes: heavy (fake), coming undone.
The pale gap above her eye. Rani, half-past-nineteen.
It is a Tuesday, raining. I wait with her in a much-loved family minivan.
The heat slips down my neck and her baby sister’s
toys catch underfoot--she nearly breaks a heel
on the warped plastic of Barbie’s pout.
To pass time, and quiet her nerves,
I tell stories. Of her parents’ old
apartment on Pine Grove, the finger-paint kits
and her mother’s textbooks, always open.
She asks me to hold up my phone and
brow furrowed, examines
the digitized recreation
of her face, flipped on its meridian.
Inside, I will hold her veil for her, bachpan ki Rani.*
Let it fall through my hands, fluid.
Like a carbonated ribbon, the beads on my palms.
*Queen of childhood