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ANDY JACKSON

The government hospital
for women and children


In the open courtyard, the mothers-to-be
sit, talking of family, money and politics.
Most of them will be seen today.
A thin man sweeps the concrete.

Outside, their men huddle round a stall,
taking tea, idli, chaat. An old woman
unpacks bundles of multicoloured
jumpsuits, blankets and shawls to sell.

A small sign on the wall - Determination
of sex of the foetus is punishable by law.
Not practised here.
A man whose body
seems entirely bone and muscle cycles past,

a dozen battered gas cylinders
in his trailer. Mobile signals pulse
through the air, intimate and ordinary.
The tamarind tree barely holds its seed pods.

One couple stands by the hospital bus stop.
He is looking toward the road as he speaks.
For a moment, his hand seems to softly touch
her shoulder. The bus slows down.

They jump on. A roadside cart has caught
her saree - one stray yellow thread
unweaves itself behind them, as the bus
takes them away.