A Quarterly Journal of Contemporary English Language Haibun
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September 2005, vol 1 no 2

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Sita Seng


Madagascar. The prostitutes eyes slide sideways with me as I pass to my room. Alone.

I have spent most of my money and live on banana sandwiches at the Chinese prostitutes' hotel. Heat pushes in on the room, its plain white walls, striped down to the basics.

Outside the darkening window, the city's marketplace, the Rova, is closing down for the night. The peddlers have covered their belongings and are settling in to make dinner for the evening. They will sleep with their goods (wood carvings, instruments, food, jewels). If I looked out the window I would see an ocean of dark bodies and piles of goods surrounding the small fires of their cooking pots.

In this urban place, nature still asserts itself. The redness of the dirt pervades the whole of Madagascar, dominant, like the endless smell of burning.

The room has its own bare bulb illuminating the attending mosquitoes. I lay on the bed straightlike for a time. Through the broken weave of the mosquito net I regard the window.

in a square of darkness
I cup the moon in my hands
-cool white


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