14. lucknow

All I remember is the boy on the bus sitting too close to me, demanding I take his brother back to America as my groom, and me, pretending to finish my crossword puzzle as the pressing persisted. The rain spat in my face through the broken window as Samantha became invisible beside me.
I couldn’t blame her though,

because it was easier that way:
to refuse to exist.

All I remember is goats
on motorbikes goats in autos
goats around necks like opera stoles
and eyes leering eyes and a man
that leaned out of his rickshaw
to tug at my sari and call me baby
and my foot colliding with the thin metal
in the street but he drove on
to leave me yelling
as he laughed

as if I were a joke

I remember
an automan asking where my ring was
where my husband was telling me in drunken
slur that respectable women do not leave
the house especially without their husband
especially after dark
and I remember him driving the opposite way of where I wanted to go
where I asked him to go where I TOLD him to go
to show me “historical houses” that didn’t exist
and tell me that I was a special rider

until I pretended to be on the phone with a man I wasn’t married to
until the battery flashed dead
and as he swigged from a rum bottle and swerved into parked cars

I spoke into the silence of no one
and hoped that my voice didn’t crack

–and white-hot anger flashing
and pulling my pallu around my face to shield it in the markets
and someone stroking his penis at a funeral in the holy city
as a man turned to ashes and stardust before him
but why was he staring at me
my pale face my pale hair that should have disappeared
into the marble into the crowd
it is too high to jump do you scream
for help at a funeral and then he disappeared
I should have disappeared
how can I disappear

All I remember is pushing it out of my head, telling myself it is not worth writing about, not worth being crafted into careful language, not worth boiling my blood in the venom of words for I fear it will stay there
that I will stay there.

All I remember is soot in my nostrils.

All I remember is fistfuls, dust.

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