The grubby boy washes out the steps of the half-closed eatery. A dog stands by; tail a-wag in expectation. In the next shop, a light peeps from beneath a nearly closed shutter. The butcher's shop is still open where a gaunt attendant scrubs a knife. Blood mixes with grime as it flows out to the gutter, only to be dammed by cabbage and mango leaves.

The marigold and jasmine seller cries out to the hurrying passers-by, “Three for the price of one.” So does the vegetable woman, her head half-covered, as her voice shears the silence. Eloquent and persuasive, the cadences rise and fall as she plies her rehearsed pitch.

A shutter closes with a clang, followed closely by a motorcycle roar that soon groans away into the darkness. The clock-tower rings and I quicken my pace. I can hear the hum of the last bus' engine, and the whines of the drunk I shoved and sent swerving across the street. Elbows clash as I run through the customers of the busy, busy cigarette shop, but the bus has begun to move. A dash as I leap onto the footboard

       The streetlights seem dimmer as my bus tears away. The bazaar sleeps.

cat's wail –
a tree of sparrows
wakes at night

(Published in Shamrock 28)


Popular Posts