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.



Anuradha Bhowmik is a Bangladeshi-American poet and writer from South Jersey. She is an MFA candidate at Virginia Tech and the poetry editor for the minnesota review. She is a Pushcart nominee and has received scholarships from the New York State Summer Writers Institute, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Frost Place, the Indiana University Writers’ Conference, and the Juniper Summer Writing Institute. Her poetry and prose are forthcoming or have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Slice Magazine, Zone 3, The Normal School, Copper Nickel, Ninth Letter Online, Word Riot, and elsewhere. Anuradha can be found at www.anuradhabhowmik.com.