May you live a long life, my aunt whispered
as she held my hand and fondled each finger.
Our friends and family had gone to their rooms
to change into tuxedos and evening saris
and to drink their first shots of iced vodka,
but she would not let us go.
You both will have such joy, she said to my bride
who sat next to me, weighted with stiffened silk,
manacled with diamond bracelets and rope
chains of gold, anxious to change clothes.
The rose petals had started to wither
on the mandap, and the fumes from the
snuffed-out homa still bristled the air.
I think about my aunt, the widow, tonight.
Many thought she wished no good on anyone,
that she overflowed with spite. Some events,
like the death of one’s love, are so senseless
that you hanker for a cause outside of “dumb luck”
so sorrow does not tighten its rope around your neck.
So for a moment I take comfort in this story:
my aunt with black eyes muddled by rhinestone
glasses, who wore a bindi the size of a red
dwarf, who always fondled my fingers while
peering into my eyes, cursed me because
she was childless and alone. May her
enemies proclaim I told you so,
as if I deserved it. As if I could have done
anything but surrender my hand
to that woman on my wedding day.
Vikram Masson is a lawyer by training who lives in Richmond, Virginia. His poetry is featured or forthcoming in the Amethyst Review, the Allegro Poetry Magazine, Young Ravens Literary Review, and The American Journal of Poetry.