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