5. marina beach

Samantha loves this place for some reason.
She’ll come home from school
after sunset, sand-footed and breathless.
“Where were you?”
“Just walking the beach.”

I don’t get it,
the inspiration she draws
from romanticizing ragtag
cardboard shops, shore made
of Kingfisher shards,
shops hawking
“American” masala corn
for 20 rupees
from an auntie with a sweaty grindstone.

Sam insists I come with her
one day, after school,
energy depleted.

I am skeptical; we go.

An old man’s monkey flips for passerby
and awaits fat coins to tip into his metal cup.
Women in half-hearted saris
try to hand me a dart rifle to pop balloons
with needle-sharp thwacks.

But when the sun leaves, I understand
why these moments keep her coming—
the promise of ocean, no matter how;
how the corn seller’s firestone
makes it look like she’s
peddling stars.


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