Mendhi or henna is drawn meticulously on my hands
the yellow mixed with orange and red of the turmeric paste dignifies me
it makes me beautiful in a way I never was before
it is like a scar on my hands, showing you the beauty of my pain.
I’ve never seen a real elephant in real life before this.
I imagine they are like henna…
dropping beauty with their trunks
all over our muddy lives.
Henna, in the tube, before you put it on looks like mud.
Elephants, before they take a bath live in mud,
the dirt around us is so powerful.
We are all dirty, just some make it a muddy dance.
The sky is not ready today, for my presence.
As I wear my long gold sari and slip over an opal ring on my right finger.
My hands have been decorated, now the party must begin…
The man on the elephant slave, sits and tortures the animal as we applaud.
I want to slap you with my henna hands
make you understand that you cannot be my husband, and the king
of everything you touch with your hands.
The elephants used to be kings, of their own muddy lives.
We sing, we dance, we make a spectacle of our selves
adorned in silk clothes and with red bindis and red lips.
I want to save you, hathi, the elephant.
I want you to take my henna painted hands and have me.
The man I’m about to marry, who I don’t know
is sitting on your back, making your life crumble.
I want to take you aside and tell you stories
About the colors of henna in my hair.