Two Moths

Some girls        on the other side of this planet

                   will never know        the loveliness

       of   walking      in a crepe silk sari.      Instead,

they will spend        their days                          on their backs

   for a parade               of   men           who could be       their uncles

       in another life.         These girls memorize

                    each slight wobble                  of   fan blade as it cuts

       through the stale       tea air and auto-rickshaw

                     exhaust,        thick as egg curry.

Men         shove greasy rupees        at the door

                      for one hour         in a room

      with a twelve-year-old.                One hour —               One hour —

             One hour.            And if   she cries afterward,

   her older sister       will cover it up.         Will rim

              the waterline             of   her eyes                 with kohl pencil

                       until it looks like                        two silk moths

                                have stopped      to rest       on her exquisite     face.

More Poems by Aimee Nezhukumatathil