Head bent, rags all around the upside down pan
Picking her nose, shuffling her feet, oblivious to the bustle and the calls of the driver’s mates.

This morning she quarrelled with the husband
Why wouldn’t he understand that her work is very tedious and involving?
Why must it all be on his terms, at his convenience?
“Move out of the way, move out, I say” shouts the cart pusher
None cares about his agitation.

The sweat runs down his face, tiny rivulets of disappointment and fear
They snake down and glide effortlessly into his dirty t-shirt
His tongue peeps out and licks the beads of sweat on his lip.

That young girl with the thin arms balances a bowl of sachet water on her head
The runny-nose baby at her back is supported with a faded ATL cloth.
He holds in his hands a battered teddy with an eye missing.
The baby whimpers, she tries to soothe him by patting his leg.
He refuses to be soothed and gives out a loud yell.
“Put him to the breast”, one woman counsels.
“I can’t”, she says, “I have no breast milk”.

Poem by Theresa Ennin
Excerpt from The Cockcrow