Betty O’Hearn reads her poem in front of the photograph by Steve McCurry on September 19, 2015 at Hickory Museum of Art. Photo courtesy of Roger and Ginny Sanford.
after “Red Boy at the Holi Festival, Mumbai/Bombay, India” by Steve McCurry
The look in your eyes tells me you are pensive about today.
Your parents who give little instruction just told you to be careful.
It is difficult for you. The Holi Festival brings such big crowds.
You remembered last year when your Mother held your hand.
Suddenly a large group of boys pushed through and you felt
her hand give way and the terror engulfed you as you fell to the ground.
What seemed forever was only a short time, but you got up and ran.
As you fell again from the pushing crowds, you looked up and saw
in a reflecting store front window, how you were a red boy.
The sounds of music were near and people danced in
colorful clothes. Many colors, people mixed colors. Fear became
a sheet of horror passed over you that felt damp.
Suddenly the sheet became real. It lifted up with your uncles holding
each corner. “Kami!” You felt your body picked up and placed in the sheet.
With laughter, you were thrown in the air and caught by family.
“Call me Red Boy.” In midair you saw an ocean of color.
It was like looking at a sea of moving people in vibrant hue.
“I shall enjoy Holi today. It is good over evil.”