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A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Founder & General Editor
Volume 9, Number 1, March 2015

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Anne Benjamin
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia


Chennai Morning

Water sloshes into a bucket, steel rattles against concrete. The caw-caw of crows drowns human chatter somewhere nearby. On the nearby main road, brakes screech, horns play reveille that scales from tweet to orchestral blast.

The pump rumbles, sending water from the underground well into a rooftop tank for the household's daily needs.

morning comes
with a splash of water
and flash of birds—
bathed and cool, I primp
my more modest plumage

The neighbour's rooftop is still quiet, but two plastic chairs have been placed, side by side, facing the east. A bulging backpack rests on one chair. Soon, a boy will come. He will sit on the chair and recite his lessons in the baby-tones of classroom chant. He will rock back and forth singing his alphabet and history. Or he will stand and pace back and forth drumming his learning in through his feet. Down below, pressure cookers hiss as women prepare breakfast and lunch for the day ahead.

at dawn
the boy studies his lessons
for his future—
downstairs his mother makes
the food he needs today

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