It was still acceptable to wear
lipgloss with glitter when blowjobs
appeared in adolescent vocabulary,
but a white boy’s initials on my hand
was the closest I’d get to physical
contact. My friends saved me
posters of Jesse McCartney
from the stapled centerfolds
of Tiger Beat and J-14. At home,
Ma left glossy Scotch taped
corners on the bedroom wall.
White boys will never respect you.
Girls wanted poker straight hair
back when they fake asked-out
boys for their friends. I don’t
date Hindus. I tugged the red
thread on my wrist, washed off
initials before I went home.
I had no middle name. White girls
had monogrammed acronyms
on their backpacks: three letters,
like the “I Love S.O.S.” written
anonymously on a stall door.
It stood for Someone Special—
I wasn’t fooling anyone. I borrowed
shorts with CUTIE on the back,
but I still had two letters
to my name, knew Hindu girls
couldn’t have crushes. A.B. knew
to shut a barbed wire mouth
behind a lockless bedroom door.
Her grip on me tightened. It was still
acceptable to wear pink lipgloss
with glitter. The makeup bag
grabbed off the nightstand. I prayed
to Thakur for forgiveness, pressed
my forehead to elders’ feet. I was
chunks of blush from the compact,
crushed against the temple.