Spotlight: Note from a Loving Friend / Love and Loss in Ludhiana

Note from a Loving Friend

For weeks, high school girls giggled, slipped folded notes
to each other, their noses pruned, leaving me on the outskirts,
alien that I was. True I had my green card, always in my wallet, but still
I did not know why I felt alone in their company.

I read their note to me folded so pretty
with numbered pages and bubbly letters. The gist:
“Please do not be angry with us. We have discussed
this with each other and the school counselor
and you need deodorant. It is unpleasant to be around you.”

I want to reach forward, tell the girl she will love
a friend with long brown curls and a kiondo
rich with books and lipstick. I want to tell her Mani
will teach her to eat wings, how to see beyond
the squares and rectangles of Mondrian’s Broadway Boogie Woogie
and see the lights of New York City, neon and traffic signs pulsing.

I want to tell the girl that one day she will become woman and dream
of amethysts, her womb a sparkling geode and she will discover her true
scents of moonlit jasmine, sandalwood and ginger, when in company
with a loving friend.



Love and Loss in Ludhiana

After Gwendolyn Brooks

Glass shards jagged along the brick where
our house separates a plot of forest amid city, it’s
cuckoos chatter, song pierced by street vendors, skimming rough
edges, selling potatoes, snake gourd, squash and
back at home, a woman on haunches washes dishes, feet untended
dry skin cracking like a fault in the earth, I ride my rusty bike and
enjoy the bumps, my seat jostling a narrow path, hungry
for grandmother’s lunch with radish pickle, careful not to crush weeds
growing between man-made surfaces. Here, night jasmine grows,
its vines, creeping along the back wall, over and around a
glass glimmering in light as the girl’s

aunt waits for the signal from her lover. She looks out her window to get
a glimpse of the boy, sick
when he never arrives, tired of
being the only one in college who never gets a rose.

She does not wait like Madam Butterfly; instead I
take her hand and we tread light through the untrammeled forest wanting
nothing but to be endowed by light filtering through falsa and champa, to
be surrounded by wild crow song, go
away from the manicured garden, in-
stead peer into the trumpet flower and see the
bee nestled and buzzing, embraced in back-beyond
bliss, away from the pruned papaya tree and maybe


Sonia Arora has been teaching literature and humanities for almost twenty years. Her work as a teaching artist takes her into classrooms across Long Island, New York City, and Philadelphia, where she explores oral history, digital media, poetry, activism, and film-making with youth in elementary, middle, and high schools. She has published short fiction, poetry, and essays. She has been published in Apiary, Putting the Movement Back Into Civil Rights Teaching, Prompted, an anthology printed by Philadelphia Stories, 3-2-1 Contact, Sonic Boom, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, bioStories, and more. One of her poems was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She has studied writing with Frederic Tuten, Terrance Hayes, Porochista Khakpour, and Jenn Givhan.