Recollections of a Grim Border Town

Three days on non-reservation trains,
the stench
and suffocation of local buses,
we stumble from sticky seats,
dig our packs from the dirt,
turn our heads
from the rickshaw-hawkers, and slog
toward the border.

The other side is no better.

Shacks and filth smear together. 
We view three hotels: the best has
no sink, no screen, blood
on the sheets. 
I slap at a mosquito near the bulb-skeleton,
throw a boot at the lizard on the wall,
rinse off three days of accumulated disease
with cold water.

Later, to calm my head-jangle,
I march back across to India:
past Tata trucks with tinseled dashboards,
sagging loads and fumes, no headlights,
to call my mother.
Circuits jam in that one-phone town.
I try an hour, despite eight black eyes and hands
that take my rupees anyway.
Bankrupt, I thresh back into the melt
of horns and rust, fevered jeeps,
police, babies and banana

I am encouraged only by the separation
of an ear stump
dripping off a gangrene dog,
and the seventeen hour bus ride
in the morning.