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April 1, 2012 vol 8 no 1

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Sonam Chhoki

One More Day

Through the ventilation bars a patch of grey sky and an icy draught. Out in the yard you hear a blast of whistle and thudding feet. You don't need exercise on death row. Just this waiting. Maybe today. You beg and pray for one more day. You'll go willingly, you plead, but not today.

The gong sounds the hour. Footfall. Clatter of tin plates. Susurrus of voices draws closer to your cell. Your heart bursts in your head. Sweat beads your brow and spreads over your whole body. A key grates in the lock. Please, please, you murmur. Oh, no! It's next door. A muffled 'No, please, No! Help! Help!' Echo of a bang against the cell wall. Angry whispers. Feet scrape the corridor. Silence. Through the ventilation bars clear notes of a blackbird. You breathe one more day.

sunlit mountain pass
the slow shadow
of a griffon vulture