Salar Jung Museum, Hyderabad, 2016
rooted before a three-panelled mirror
curtained and in harmony, you stand:
nubile breasts poke alabaster cloth
frilled skirt—a compressed glamour—
eyes half-open with a Madonna calm,
leafy marble in Biblical resignation.
your right hand clutches the veil
tight to your chest. your left hand
open, inviting. did you have a choice?
Benzoni knew of frail first meetings.
why else this vacillation in me, in you?
this iffy haze? this heady temptation?
I mouth your name – ‘Rebekah’ –
a calm blink to the senses, verily
a tree of a woman lost in reverie!
I lost a lot in your city. with each sip
of Irani chai, love beckoned & I—
were you, in a hall of mirrors:
we stand now a preserve of desires
let curious moustaches arbitrate
float to our shade debating.
all the while, if true love is waiting,
he waits for you to step off the pedestal
and go to him empty-handed—
Athira Unni is a research scholar and poet. She lives in Leeds, U.K. with her husband and some books.