Wrong Way Home

six thirty turns to seven fifteen,
the storm burns out the last light in the sky,
now just a rhyming lament,
slipping like steel wires between dripping headlights,
rickshaws splash by,
their passengers wet,
crawling on three wheels
through comatose traffic,
the buses have long given up,
turned away by water
waist deep at the intersection,
they say;
through tangled umbrellas,
the wind is making its way,
cold now,
hissing around the fire of handcarts
still boiling stale tea under plastic tents;
every face is a stranger,
every face is familiar,
trapped in an urban swamp together,
lights glow on mobiles
alive inside marooned cars,
in someone’s ear
is the sound of brow-creased worry
from a warm kitchen;

she turns off her phone,
stuffs it into her sodden purse,
the lady at the thrift store
had promised her it would last several monsoons;
there was a time for hoping,
there was a time for dreaming,
that the rain would stop,
that a bus would arrive,
that there was money to call a cab,
that someone would be waiting
in a leaky apartment
nine miles away;

a flash of lightning slides low
to meet the wordless chill in her eyes,
she tugs a scarf over her head,
her whispered prayer swallowed
by the crash of thunder,
greasy water grabs her ankles,
as she steps out of the shelter
into the endless night.

they say
twenty centimetres of rain fell that night,
they say
thirty two people died.

For the midweek prompt at Poets United: ‘Acceptance

28 thoughts on “Wrong Way Home

  1. There is a world-weariness here, especially the brand that seems to seek out those who have already had their fill and then some, that permeates this piece from top to bottom. It sighs instead of screams, which to my way of thinking makes all the difference.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. whew. excellent close on this. the pull away to the facts beyond the story give it a poignant feel. i was in the monsoon while i was in nepal–the school where i taught almost got flooded by it…we had to jump into the rivers created by the rain and dig trenches to save it…


  3. I am drenched! I understand the monsoons are worse after periods of no rain at all. Your poem is better than a picture to bring it alive, and to make the hope of one person with a waterproof purse vibrate in my heart.


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