Indian Dialect

May 19, 2008
I know they sneer when we walk.
At your flattened eyes, lidless, pressed to a porcelain skull.
We walk to the temple, gritty gods arched--
on the sphered gray cheeks of the sky.
I stare at you
Wondering if they will let us pray.
Me, with my yellowed plasma:
of banana peel and saffron dust.
And you, with skin too ivory to be from Myanmar.
They titter "tourists," with lips contoured like roots:
This home my home.
The man's hand slips under the Formica counter.
For a moment, I grab my mother and her porcelain hand.
But he only bobs his head to a cultural swing:
-tha thai tum tha thai. Breathe.
Camphor clings to our geometric figures
Under scrutiny we pass:
--in bevelled shapes.
To a dialect I know, in a tongue I do not have.
"Everything looks good on white" said the licorice dark man.
I am standing with my father.
Culturally indistinct in a thready cotton kurta.
The man is slick sap and adhesive words.
I point to the dresses I like, but he hands me another.
He offers the plastic parcel to me
I take it.
I take the parcel, damp from his black amber hands.
"Everything looks good on white."
There is a curl to the letters
A spicy twist, softening:
the syllables-a slur of perspective.
The sari inside is flamingo pink.
A tawdry scarf, slapped with the foreigner's price.
My father haggles.
The licorice man grabs my wrists, showing the custard skin beneath.
"Everything looks good on white" he declares.
The price is final.

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