J A N U A R Y 2 0 0 1
THE BINDI MIRRORby Greg Delanty
Hear Greg Delanty read this poem (in RealAudio).
(For help, see a note about the audio.)
Also by Greg Delanty:
Tagging the Stealer (1997)
After Viewing The Bowling Match at Castlemary, Cloyne (1847) (1995)
The Compositor (1995)
The small circle which a married woman places on her forehead is known as a bindi ('zero'). These are usually bought ready-made from the market and have become almost a fashion accessory, with every imaginable shape and colour to match the occasion. You'll also come across a wide variety of used bindis stuck to the mirrors in hotel bathrooms!
India, Lonely Planet Travel Survival KitHere we are, ringed in the circular mirror, you in front,
head bowed, brushing rat's nests and static
from hair that's the long sable-silk of Indian women.
We're oblivious of each other in that married way
that some call oneness, others call blindness. Your O
snaps us out of our morning motions
as you spot the various bindis round our mirror.
The index finger of your wedding-band hand traces
from one to another, connecting confetti zeros
that are red as the razor-nick on my Adam's apple.
Others are inlaid with pearls as if with love itself.
Who wore that God's teardrop, that bloody arrowhead,
or those joyful signposts, gay-colored as a Hindu temple?
O women of such third eyes, did any of you grow
weary of the SOLD stickers on your brows, the zeros
of your vows? While your men slept did you vanish
into the immense Ravana dark of the Indian night?
Could you have slipped them off as wedding rings are
in hotels on our side of the faithless globe?
Below our moving reflection are rows
of crimson bindis like tiers of shimmering votive flames.
Greg Delanty teaches at St. Michael's College, in Vermont, and is the author of The Hellbox (1998). His poem in this issue will appear in his forthcoming book, The Blind Stitch.
All material copyright © 2001 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All rights reserved.