The First Time
The first time I heard
the story of the prodigal son,
I was in college and always jealous,
imagining him in his father’s robe
and ring, eating all that calf.
Dishonor is worse than death.
I believe it because I’m Indian
and hear so many stories about
unkept marriages and children
who leave their parents in homes
where they don’t serve Gujarati
meals. My father still makes me
promise to take care of him,
even if I have a better choice,
even if the food is not that bad.
This time I hear the parable
in my friend’s living room,
sitting on a couch cornered
by her piano and fireplace.
Her father is describing love
as if it were always good.