Reminders on the morning after:

A mala of jasmine flowers,

a mound of red silk which had

enveloped me whole.


A large palm plant, watered with

soda, empty Coke bottles swimming

in the flooded pot. A large house, flooded.

A reunion reminiscent of drowning.


A circle of lawn chairs, where

the men had gathered, eating naan by

the tear-fuls. The boy had sat intently

all night, trying to claim manhood early.


A tousled bed –

from the gaggle of wives, who’d

piled on top, a plethora of jokes I was either

too young or too American for.


A gift, a book on Swami Vivekananda

who shared my birthday,

a winning smile from the boy,

unreadable, really.


And a string: a donkey piñata,

slung from a broken chandelier.

Subject to sharp taps of broom handles,

from six-foot-tall uncles.


It took the beatings gracefully–