After India, Layne with Sushila's shawl

Sushila's Shawl
dear Sushila your shawl how you gave it to me how I wore it
December in Bombay December in south India how you wrapped me
in the spring peach shawl a cotton so fine falling like water in the sun

how we met by the temple of Hanuman and you gave me saris white and blue
the handsewn white petticoat your white laughter and dark eyes
your stories of the great one in a village of south India

in the hanging gardens by the Arabian Sea how you told me secrets
whispers on a wood bench splashes on dark rocks
full Indian moon falling like water down warm slopes of Bombay night

how I listened to every word to every pause to the light in your hands and eyes
to the movement of the shawl movement of my breathing and yours
movement of the water below and our feet on the stones

how I still have the shawl oh how I still have it how I took it to south India
laid it out on the hill above the village that night after seeing the great one
how I sat under the moon slept there woke in deep Christmas night

how no one understood the shawl the hill the moon or my leaving
but you did Sushila back in the city you took me in and your father gave me his bed
his place on the screened porch above Bombay streets with the shining black birds

how I stayed with you till it was time to go how I fit it all into my pack
the saris the petticoat the books the little buddha the stories the moon and the shawl
falling like water in the sun Sushila like water in the spring peach sun

© August 1997 Leslye Layne Russell

This poem was published in mothertongued in 2003.

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