"Playing in the Palloo"
Her fingers pleated and danced, and I awaited
the final flourish, the toss of that dazzle-drape
over her shoulder — the palloo, oh, that palloo!
She couldn't dodge me as I captured the swathe
of iridescence and fashioned a portal for my
small body. That light slipping through? Stars,
guiding my journey through caves of jade and
emerald, until I turned and burrowed into a
cache of amber, seeking creatures stunned by
the pour of resin, then turned again, to swim
into the lotus lake, leap within the peacock prism.
I blunder as an adult, as I attempt to drape my own
saree, unable to duplicate my mother's finger dance.
My hands cramp from the unaccustomed motions,
then release the fabric to the ground. When I drop
into the spill, I close my eyes, pull my mother's
palloo around my ears, and hear it rustle into song.
She never knew that I placed the knotted ends in my
mouth, tasted detergent and sunshine and bougainvillea
as I sucked out the stories with my tongue.
* The "palloo" is the portion of a saree that falls in long folds from the shoulder
"Playing in the Palloo" first published in Crosswinds Literary Journal