She carries it with her wherever she goes—
perhaps in a handbag, a purse or a clutch,
but sure as the blood-truth, she walks with a load.
Wobbling on the plane against her left foot,
her bag is exempt the strict stowaway rules
as if it were un membre non prôche;
a battery pack or emergency fuel.
And yet, the scanner does not reveal much:
a string of beads, the brand of her flip-flops,
her skeletal keys, the profile of a toothbrush.
Suspiciously plain. So they ask her to stop
and stand up vitruvian, to be hurriedly touched
as dustless gloves feel her up, pat her down
and push her back out in a rush
as one of the crowd.
Will it ever be found?—
the weight with no name, the invisible onus,
a problem deeper than the Mariana Trenches,
the crime so widespread it has no known radius,
a creaking pressure that fractures plate-glass
with a gravity that doubles from Mars to Venus?
Who tied the Albatross to their Fallopians?—
the girls who toddle with dolls pressed to their bust,
who grow up pretending to stroll with prams,
and leave school toting an untouched lunch;
or, with bags slung on elbows down supermarket aisles,
women who carry our children and pocket our lust
and give up their jobs to tell fairy-tales
till they soften like oranges and crumble like crust.
A procession of chattel-slaves, unheard and shit-paid,
they cart their millstones from pillar to post,
marching their wheelie-bins into their graves
and all they have known is push, push, push.
Neil Singh is a physician based in the UK who teaches at Brighton and Sussex Medical School. He completed a Masters in Public Health at the American University of Beirut. He occasionally writes poetry, songs, and non-fiction.