She emerges from the river
and waits. Waning moonlight clings
like her sari, crimson silk stark
against her young body, against
the sweet darkness of her lush arms,
her generous thighs.
She has slipped
away in the moonlight, away from
her bridegroom’s bed, from his strong
arms, his heavy thighs — he drowns in
sodden whiskey dreams.
to the riverside, sunk deep beneath
dark waters, considered not coming up
again. But the water caressed her skin;
night shadows were kind to faint
bruises on her arms, her thighs.
She could imagine herself
a bride again.
She is so young. Young enough to
believe her sisters, her aunts, who
told her of the pleasure to be had
beneath a man, taste of dark skin
again skin in silk sheets, pleasure
of laying yourself open to his hands,
his supple mouth, his…
She turns away
from the riverside; she walks through
the quiet pines, runs, loses
herself in wind, moon, in shaking,
fragile night. The sun already
starts to rise. Soon, she must decide
where she will go, but
now, there is
only the dirt beneath her thudding
feet, the wind drying her damp skin,
the shifting light and the pleasure
of her body in swift motion, rising,
racing — a river in first flood.
September 6, 1999