Volume 23, Number 2

From the Hand

“Only white people can do that.”
the small black girl said
Her new cornrows ended in beads like water droplets.
In ankle-deep surf she watched
my golden, half-Indian, five-year-old daughter swim underwater,
then looked into my dark brown Indian face.
I said, “Aw come on, honey.”
The next wave splashed right on her head,
then in she dove.

I tell little girls:
Beauty flows from the hand,
doesn’t sit in the mirror.

I once met a mother of the bride
who had sewn all the wedding dresses,
cooked the food, arranged the bouquets,
even crocheted the little baskets of nuts.
Her only daughter’s romantic outdoor June wedding,
flowed from the hands
of a large gap-toothed truckdriver
in a plain blue dress.

And when my father beamed
and said, “My working daughter,” and kissed me
before my shift at my first job in college
as a part-time store gift wrapper,
Of course I felt beautiful.

—Ujjvala Bagal-Rahn