shackles of gold tie me down

beneath the crimson sky

henna spells out his name on my palms

the temporary stain scars my life


you plucked me off from my castle of hope

writhed me into a bargain

fourteen years worth of burning coals in your heart

the final splint exhausts tonight


betel nut, flowers, fruits, conch shell

his palms twice the size

water pours with chanting mantras

the charitable gift of a virgin


you chanced upon the sacred moment

when you found jewels at your doorstep

fourteen years worth of poverty and anguish

the box fills with rice tonight


seven vows of deceit

with floral showers of disgust

crowned with a streak of vermillion

the shackles are now firm in place


you locked the girl away

force the woman out of me

fourteen years worth of blinding ill-fate

the curse leaves your courtyard tonight


touching feet for false blessings

five handful of rice over my head

tears of grief but most of joy

the cot carries this burden away for life


– Parveen Maghera


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