the labouring woman

how familiar this filth, this jaundiced sun, this half monorail / travelator
i’ve been here before, running from gunmen, running late to weddings, scouring the backward streets for white grilled meat.
this time, i’m looking for cigarette shops, half priced due to currency exchange. I find unfamiliar coloured packs, sized larger than usual. but these stores are still selling in local dollars. i’m not deep enough across the borders.
i take the passenger train, rail structures crammed along dirty buildings, in the density of chaos cities, streets of soot and sulphur and monoxide skies. waves upon waves of overpopulation.
the brown skinned woman on the train is struggling in the crowd, holding her belly. a ladies handbag is on one of the seats. overlooking her shoulder, I see the woman point, ‘to get that thing away.’ the owner removes it, the woman sits down, blouse button open, a strange softness around her stomach
there could’ve been blood, signs of a miscarriage, a bent over kind of birthing pain. I stand before her, silent. i cannot tell what my soundless self is doing. i only know i’m not allowed to touch her.
in seconds, it’s years later, in her home
a man is standing behind a cot. I am overlooking his shoulder.
he holds a premature infant in one hand. his other hand holds up a deformed teenage girl, with no spine to sit up straight.
her body is twisted, her brain is muted and drooling, her brown scaly skin and patches of dried hair on her bald head reminds me of animals, diseased
their mother had given birth to two of kind
perhaps, special beyond human understanding
perhaps, potent and dangerous, haunted yet heavenly
am I the father or handmaiden?
I cannot tell if the mother survived.

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