They come up to each car, press
their dusty faces against glass, palms
outstretched in the universal sign of
supplication. A girl no older than 10
carries a toddler astride one hip.
His belly hangs like a balloon
distended with water, over the edge
of a makeshift diaper. Her other hand offers
strings of rice seed and jasmine, cream
streaked with taint of sewer water. How
do such flowers grow and still flood
the air with unbearable fragrance?
The streets slice open, lane dividers
white as the fat quilting a pig's
stomach. It's here we press
ourselves into the seams of the machine,
here where we spill our guts daily, borne
by a tide that some of us will breach
and those of us lacking in strength
will go under, mouths open; and oil-
slicked waters conduct us from this world.

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