India After Eight

Paces quicken
Gold chains around necks
Are quickly hidden
Footsteps become silent
Less sure of themselves
And more desperately trying to get home
The judging begins
Of every station, every bus stop
Is it too empty?
Too quiet?
Are the men walking too slowly?
Auto rickshaw drivers’
Faces get looked at harder
Would he rape my girlfriend,
As I send her home alone?
Maybe we can pay him extra
‘text me when you get home’
in every other land
a polite courtesy
In India, is a sign of urgency
A text awaited with frantic fear
Relieved only to hear
‘I’m here’.

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