Gold Wishes by Manahil Bandukwala
Published November 29, 2020
I wear a dress made out of water. It flows off me
in mirrored layers and I find myself a lake.
Translucent water lilies float in the blurred space
between me and water, swatch of dark blue
reflects sky. Goldfish have left their fishbowls
to be here, to fly circles around my water skirt.
They burst into spark trails and re-form when it rains.
I string up paper lanterns folded from orange and red leaves,
the same colour as the fish that have mastered the sky.
A dress made out of water, a crown just a halo of fish sparks,
flute carved from lotus wood whistles a dance tune.
Water lilies open their arms to release frogs onto my dress.
Tadpoles tickle their way up my legs and find warmth
in the hot spring of my stomach. This is how I learn water
animals hide flesh, that goldfish
make wishes come true if you say please
enough times, that the price I pay is horns growing out
of my hair. I wish reflections would stop
forever so I can stop seeing my face when I look down
at my body and that water lilies would sprout
on my skirtfalls. The frogs hop up with flowers
but these are made from tree rot, and goldfish
haven’t learned to undo wishes yet.
Manahil Bandukwala is a Pakistani writer and artist. Her most recent project, Reth aur Reghistan, is an exploration of Pakistani folklore interpreted through poetry and sculpture, carried out with her sister, Nimra Bandukwala. See more at sculpturalstorytelling.com. See recent work in the Malahat Review, CV2, Briarpatch, Augur, and other places. She is a member of VII, an Ottawa-based writing collective.