Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsFall 2017  Vol. 16 No. 2
an online journal of literature and the arts
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the procession

her trunk unwinds in an s,
red satin saddle & parasol hitched
to her back. she harbors the groom

under a gilt dome & faces forward, unendingly
gray. aunties in their finest silks dance
around her feet, steer her toward

the bride. i hate to admit i am part of this
crowd, marveling at the girth of her legs,
thinking: if just one elephant charged

we’d call it stampede. not that she or i
wish death on anyone. the groom
descends. & she has seen fellow bulls—

their tusks chipping like bark or shorn at the base.
she knows some things are not meant to be
taken. i know what will happen to the promises

we girls make. we say we’ll never leave
the herd, but the ceremony will end with a party
where they flaunt their dates while i smoke

a cigarette where the elephant once stood. for now
we loosen our grip on each other’s hands, clap
wildly, our bangles chiming against

the rhythm, singing along with our broken tongues,
squinting to see the bride through all of this glare,
all of this gold.  

From GILT © 2017 Raena Shirali. Used with the permission of YesYes Books.



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