We went to an amusement park
in downtown Calcutta, with
fire-breathing macho men and
an artist who wrote my name on
a single grain of uncooked rice.
There was a water slide with mats
made of golfing turf, and no
soft landing to break the fall.
My uncle, the boy, had told me
weeks ago of a tightrope line
I’d have to walk across to exit
the park. No harness and no net –
he’d told me, as we sat in a
locked room in my grandparents’ house,
shouting Bengali expletives
to strangers on the street, hiding
behind the shutters if they looked our
way. One man waited until we
snuck a peek and scared us shitless.
My face – must have exhibited
the same expression that night as
we walked to the ride, my uncle
mischievously grinning at me.
The ropes were strung up high and taut
and carried…compartments. Sturdy,
stable enclosures that traveled
the lines along the vicinity.
As we glided through the air,
I thought to yell at my companion,
but it was dark and we were high,
so I just glanced over the edge.
Mosquitos danced. Light bulbs flickered.
He put a hand on my shoulder.