They say / the faithful go to God with the love // of a child, they say the soul sees everything / without eyes. I am trying to understand // my life.
Afterward, I would sit in Algebra and run
my fingers over my calves to feel
the skin the thorns scratched. Sometimes
I found blood. And sometimes I would press
my sternum to my desk so hard
I couldn’t breathe. Math willed me into logic
but I wanted beauty. In High School, I thought
my sorrow could transform me. My mother
left her mother to move to North Carolina
because she married my father. She wanted
to change her life. The first time my mother
saw me act was the last. I was cast as Juror Eleven
and told to practice my Indian accent.
After the play, my Mother stood
without touching me, her blushed cheeks red.
Tonight, it is too late for love
again–at 5:00am, every bar has closed.
I study my face against the black night sky.
In the window of the train, my face
cuts through skyline. Jesus suffered, then rose
from the dead. Wasn’t I, too, blessed? Although
God sees us in the dark, even Jesus felt lost.
In High School I would make out with a boy
who said I smelled like curry. In the woods
behind the baseball field, his hands
undid my bra. We would lean against the fence.
I wanted to be an actor because I wanted to exist.
One night after rehearsal, I searched
my mother’s closet. The assignment was to dress
in your character’s best. I knew better
than to take my mother’s things, but I stole
a nude lipstick and her silk blue blouse.
It had ruffles down the center, like a kind of spine
but softer. Like something trying to bloom.
Sometimes I pull up my shirt to look
at the lines of my body. I stroke
my neck with a finger like I might
if I were the beloved. In college
my silk blue dress was soaked
with rain– I stood behind the barn
where everyone I knew was inside,
dancing. Lorca wrote the woman
of deep song is called Pain. For so long
I thought it was my job to suffer.
Just look at the men that I’ve loved.
What I miss most about college
is the landscape of Ohio, fields
full of hills, where flat lines of the sky
go on and go on and do not stop. They say
the faithful go to God with the love
of a child, they say the soul sees everything
without eyes. I am trying to understand
my life. Across the boulevard trees
are flowering. Monet painted
the Parc Monceau in this light, where time
is a shadow that deepens to shade.