I took you to the Taj Mahal.
It was November in Ohio,
dark by dinner time, damp
biting cold as we walked
from the car. The air inside
was warm and fragrant. I caught
your smell as you removed
your coat, wanted to breathe in
against your neck beneath
the unruly cloud of long dark hair.
We drank sweet spiced tea softened
with milk, shared pakora and naan,
channa saag and aloo gobhi
and tender aromatic rice. It was all new
to you, the spices and textures, my hand
on your knee as we sipped tea
and talked after the meal. I caught
your reflection in the gilt-edged mirror
across the room, pale face framed
by dark silk curtains, gold bells.
I wanted to take you everywhere
in that moment, place your beauty
securely in my world. I wanted
to hide you inside, away from cold
and judgment. We ordered kheer,
thin rice pudding with pistachios
and cardamom. The waiter, a dark
beautiful boy with wavy hair to his collar,
brought our dessert, one bowl, two heavy
spoons touching, nestled comfortably
on a creamy white, gold-stamped saucer.