By: Michele Mekel
There it stood, a monolith of steel and glass and concrete block,
rising from a sea of shanties,
constructed from corrugated tin and salvaged brick,
with brightly colored cotton sheets that served as doors.
Its hulking shadow hung over the maze of vendor stalls and hovels,
where life teemed
and every aroma of human existence
wafted forth in simultaneous assault.
It announced itself proudly—no, defiantly—
with towering, grit-greyed letters
that reached toward the pollution-streaked sky.
English letters few could read proclaimed it to be “Equity.”
Clad from the waist up in a Western-style shirt, from the waist down in a traditional lungee,
a watchman sipped a cup of steaming chai.
With a machine gun slung casually over his shoulder,
the sentry glowered and shouted clipped insults at all
but Equity’s inhabitants from his perch in the portico.
But, in the quiet hours, when lizards scurried over white-washed walls,
Equity allowed overlooked incursions.
It was then that the garbage pickers wandered dark, hand-print-spattered halls,
unseen before dawn’s call to prayer.
Furtively, they sifted,
as if panning for gold,
through the dregs of daily existence
set out by Equity’s slumbering occupants.
Living in Happy Valley, Michele Mekel wears many hats of her choosing: writer and editor; educator and bioethicist; poetess and creatrix; cat herder and chief can opener; witch and woman; and, above all, human. Her work has appeared in various academic and creative publications.