Not cocaine, but our first cigarette
As the quarter moon shone
With the bright Venus below it...
Our house, full of teenagers
And hordes of books in shelves
Lining the walls....
The Telerad radio with the laughing green eyes
Blaring songs from Yuvavani, Calcutta
Abbas and Boney M and The Carpenters...
As Ramesh, our pal, and the DJ
Reeled off our names,
Careful not to leave out anyone...
The record player on, the hall turned instantly
Into a ballroom with powdered floor
And dimmed lights...
Our clothes the slithering sheen of snake's skin.
A bottle of sherry begged off Uncle
In a wine cup with a slice of lemon,
And our first cigarette.
We inhaled, trying to blow up rings -
But choking and sick instead....
Millie, the tough guy
Puts up a show of bravado
As she sips her sherry
My mother wisely turns a deaf ear
And a blind eye
To our girlish curiosities
Knowing that this is spring...
Yes, Ramesh is now drowned and dead
Millie has flown westward
And Roshni, a faded spinster....
And we three children,
Responsible spouses and parents
With aching hearts,
As we spend time away from each other.