By Kiranjit Shoker
whose skin is sun spun gold honeyed kisses and almond ripe
joy that has warmed our skin for millenia.
you, who wears your tapestry of sun silk,
dyed like shades of cha
(strong brew or milky cool)
skin who others seek to drape across their lonely beds and pin above their darkened mantels; no trophy prize for those who triumph in their melanin.
whose face carries the history of our people;
noses telling the triumph of your lineage, bumps and planes
that cut through history. we decorate our heritage; koka glittering, a thousand slivers from a looted Kohinoor, a piercing of pride.
you, who weaponizes your eyes like love
sour tamarind whorls
beckons them to your lash line
soorma paints the wells of your eyes
and lovers perch on the edge,
mesmerized by mango bark and sugar cane.
they would rather leap into your irises
for fear that you look away.
a letter for you
whose presence is profound; ethereal bodies that dance in the world like water laughter lilting like chanjira in courtyards
taur, like a burbling creek follows the curves of your bodies softness.
whose hair is flora
growing and cascading
from temple to toe
in your absence, memories of you are nishani like the scent of incense once it has unfurled its heat.
a chithi for her;
nani and bibi
bhena and bhabia
maman and thiyan
whose gajrai chime
as they guhn and behl
folding flour into phulkai
whose fingers are a loom
as they maalish and braid
weaving soft hair into silken rope
whose tongues sharpen
carving courage from their daughters
translating nakhre as self-love
whose will persists
as their mendhi fades
whose arms soften
hips widen, bellies laugh
who churn salty tears into sweet tea
who hold their daughters with pride
a love letter for you
who finds herself in these words and lives them true.