Sometimes they annoy me and I say
I’m going to take them off for good.
I remember the night when the bangle-seller eased them on:
Bright and clattering, red and gold, spangly with glitter
For weeks afterwards, small shimmers appear
On my clothes, my face, my husband’s blonde hair.
The gentle glitterbomb of Love and India.
I remember my regular bangle-seller,
Rotund and genial,
Telling me (I was 14) that if a man ever grabs me
And I cannot get away,
To slam my wrist against his eyes.
This surprises me:
They are glass, these bangles, decorative and fragile-seeming
But he tells me that adornment never only serves one purpose.
These shining rings are blinding
In more than one way.
One at a time, they are delicate things.
I wear 30 on each arm.
And when a man grabs me and I cannot get away
I smash his eyes and nose and he lets go
Howling and calling me crazy.
I bare teeth, raise fists and shake shattered, bloody bangles at him.
But that was a long time ago. Now they break
Against the edge of the sink
As I throw a ball for the dogs
While grinding spices
When I’m cleaning stalls
Or for no reason I can fathom.
Sometimes in the night I roll over and feel a stab at my back,
An unnoticed casualty tangled with us in the sheets.
I know how that one broke.
I place it on the shard-strewn bedside table
And smile back into sleep.
My bangles are not so bright anymore. Stripped of sparkles by
The Indian ocean
The New Orleans sun
My Minnesota farm.
I meant to take them off when I came back home but they stay
Lose against my dark skin
Jangling now against the keyboard
Chiming when I ride my horse
Dwindling of their own accord.
In the grocery store, a woman admires them and asks if I am a Hindu lady.
I say yes.
I smile at her and think, that’s me, darlin:
A Hindu lady, deadly and adorned.