Burning henna suns into her hands,
she sits apart, waiting for dance class to resume.
Against the wall, a mirror collapses,
reflecting blond tendrils escaping
hair gel and prayer, the almost-wish
that they were dark as her mother’s.
Above her flows a foreign language
of naan bread and suitable boys.
She understands but cannot speak.
Odissi dance is all that binds them,
but Amma never cared that she didn’t share skin.
She leans into the mirror close enough to kiss,
searching in her eyes for her mother’s mark,
something to prove she belongs here.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.