Because I was taught all my life to blend in, I want
my fingernails to blend out: like preschoolers
who stomp their rain boots in a parking lot, like coins
who wink at you from the scatter-bottom of a fountain,
like red starfish who wiggle a finger dance at you,
like green-faced Kathakali dancers who shape
their hands into a bit of hello with an anjali—I tell you,
from now on I and my children and their children
will hold four fingers up—a pallavam, a fresh sprout
with no more shame, no more shrink, and if the bright
colors and glittered stars of my fingertips scare you,
I will shape my fingers into sarpasirassu—my favorite,
a snake—sliding down my wrist and into each finger:
just look at these colors so marvelous so fabulous.
See the two snakes where my brown arms once were.
See that movement near my elbow, now at my wrist?
A snake heart can slide up and down the length of its body
when it needs to. You’ll never be able to catch my pulse, my shine.