A baby screams in India.

Women crowd colourful as geraniums
into the doctor’s lair
offering great jellied bellies
to the ultra scan machine.
Happiness is a glimpse of testes
a genitalian release of fear:
all the family will smile,
celebrate in the cool evening
knowing that fortune has given them
at last, a son.

The baby screams in pain
her mother squatting blank-faced
in the sand, angry in her heart.

A husband beats his new wife
demanding more gifts from her family:
burns her for her poverty,
a rag, flapping in the flame.

Desperate geranium women
eyes deep with despair
seek out the abortionist again,
go through more pain and fear:
take the tiny foetus home
to show the family their shame.
They will try and try again.

Young men fondle televisions,
Walkmans, CDs, in the shops
planning the pleasures of technology
the dowry brings;
covet the shining cars
more beautiful than stars,
more lovely than the gold and silks
their dowry bringers wear.

The baby screams no more.
Her mother sighs: the God of Death
a friend compared to the life
of a poor unmarried girl.
Putting the poison away
her father prays for a boy next time.


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